• Sacking of Media Persons for Airing Views on Social Media on Rise in TN

    Neelambaran A

    July 31, 2019

    Media persons in Tamil Nadu have been increasingly facing the axe by companies for voicing their opinion on social media platforms, a trend that is new to the state. Many people, including members of technical teams, journalists, and an editor have lost their jobs reportedly due to ‘external pressure’.

    Most of the present-day media companies are promoted by organisations having multiple business interests. The necessity of such companies to be in the good books of the government, backed by Right wing groups, is allegedly forcing them to act on the commands of some reactionary forces, said sources.

    CMPC Condemns Action of Media Companies

    The Centre of Media Persons for Change (CMPC) has criticised the move of some media companies for ‘inhuman’ action against their workers. In a statement, CMPC alleged that a lay-out artist working with Ananda Vikatan was removed for a social media post on a religious worship in Kanchipuram district close to Chennai. The statement also claimed that the Vikatan group had acted due to ‘external pressure’.

    Two persons working with the digital team of News 7 Tamil were also removed from service without any prior notice, it said. One was removed for posting comments of Viduthalai Chiruthaikal Katchi (VCK) leader, Vanniarasu, against the founder of Pattali Makkal Katchi (PMK), Dr Ramadoss, the statement alleged. The work assigned to the digital team is to update the statements of political leaders. If a worker uploads a statement made by a leader, it is part of discharging the duty assigned and the person’s removal is questionable.

    The VCK and PMK are known for their political rivalry and there have been repeated clashes between the cadres of these two political parties in their strongholds. The said channel is owned by the VV Group known for mining in the seashores of southern Tamil Nadu.

    Cauvery News Editor Dismissed

    In yet another incident, the Cauvery News management dismissed its Editor, Jenram, for voicing his opinion against an interview by th channel, alleging violation of media ethics, CMPC said. Incidentally, the said interview with Su Pa Veerapandian, general secretary of Dravida Iyakka Tamizhar Peravai, was widely criticised for being biased. The Editor, in his comments, had expressed dissatisfaction with the anchor for being partial in raising questions.

    The management, instead of streamlining the way of conducting interviews in an impartial and ethical way, decided to sack the Editor immediately. Jenram is one of the senior-most and respected media persons in the state and is known for his progressive views. The channel is promoted by the Cauvery Power Trading Chennai Private Limited, which runs coal-based power stations in Gummidipoondi near Chennai, as well as gas power industries.

    ‘Undemocratic Actions’

    Newsclick spoke to Haseef of CMPC who said, “Of late, the right to opinion is being denied to people working in the media. Companies are being pressured by certain forces to take action against people who comment against government policies. In certain cases, action is being taken for the posts written a few years ago. This indicates that the companies are acting under pressure from external forces, particularly reactionary forces.”

    He alleged that these forces seem to have followed the person making comments against the policies of the ruling party for several months and were now forcing the companies to take. “It seems to be a well-planned action by such forces against these media persons for registering their individual opinion on social media platforms”, he added.

    Haseef said: “The comments made by the dismissed people are not against any political leader, but against certain policies. This is completely in line with the fundamental right to opinion and has nothing to do with their work. Yet, these companies are yielding to pressure. This is a sad state of affairs. We appeal to all likeminded people to voice their views against such regressive forces”.

    Striking a different note, Bharathi Tamizhan, who works with the Hindu Tamil, said, “I do not accept that media houses are acting against the workers. The issue should be studied case by case. We have the right to speech, but we should not exceed the limits of such freedom”.

    Right-Wing ‘Attack’ on Media Persons

    Meanwhile, attacks on media persons, particularly on women, are continuing on social media platforms. Earlier S Ve Sekhar, an actor, former Member of Assembly elected on All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) and now a member of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) had created furore by sharing a derogatory facebook post against women journalists. Many anchors, talk show hosts, irrespective of gender, have faced Right-wing trolling.

    With most media houses, both print and television, depending largely on corporate funding, the trend of firing people who voice their opinion has been on an increase. Such a trend needs to be countered since the media is considered the fourth pillar of our democracy.


     

    First published in Newsclick.

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