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Posted at: Jan 12, 2017, 2:02 AM; last updated: Jan 12, 2017, 2:02 AM (IST)

Can’t ensure fair coverage as AAP boycotting us: PTC

Channel with links to SAD chief replies to EC’s diktat

Airing its ‘fear’

  • We tried to cover AAP rallies and functions several times, but our reporters and cameramen were threatened or chased away by party workers. AAP has been boycotting our channel. —PTC mgmt, in reply to EC’s order

Amaninder Pal

Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 11

So far locked in a bitter battle with Punjabi channel PTC News, the Aam Aadmi Party has, after the enforcement of poll code, turned into a technical headache for the broadcast firm, whose shares can be traced to Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Badal.

A major cause for concern is a recent direction issued by the Election Commission to news channels: “Unless they (news channels) publically endorse or support a particular party or candidate, news broadcasters have a duty to be balanced and impartial, especially in their political reporting.”

Responding through a letter, the channel management has conveyed to the EC that since its crew was being boycotted by AAP, it was finding it difficult to adhere to the “impartial and balanced news reporting” clause.

“AAP has been boycotting our channel. Our crew is not allowed to cover the party’s rallies and press conferences and also their representatives don’t participate in talk shows produced by us,” wrote a senior channel functionary to the office of the Chief Electoral Officer, Punjab, which has forwarded it to central poll authorities.

The functionary added that “keeping the above fact in mind, it was not possible for them to provide coverage to AAP or its representatives. Several times we tried to cover AAP rallies and functions, but our reporters and cameramen were threatened or chased away by party workers. In the light of this fact, do let us know how should we adhere to the instructions of the Election Commission in letter and spirit?”

In the same letter, the management also admitted that the channel was owned and operated by the company whose majority share-holding was with Sukhbir Badal, the Shiromani Akali Dal president. Pointing out a technical catch, a senior electoral officer said, “As per the EC directions, the channel has dutifully disclosed a majority shares of the company operating it are traced back to Sukhbir Badal. Therefore, if the EC finds that the channel is giving more space to Sukhbir during his campaign, it can order to add expense of that coverage to his expenditure. Hence, it can create problems for the candidate.”

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