It is poetic justice when a sting operator gets stung by another sting operator. Zee News had conducted sting operations on some people. Naveen Jindal conducted a sting operation on them and exposed them for blackmail and extortion.
Zee News telecast sting operation by Tehelka. Bangaru Laxman was sentenced to four years for taking 1,00,000 rupees for New Year’s Party from two persons who claimed they sold arms. What should be the punishment for editors of Zee News and Zee Business, Sudhir Chaudhary and Samir Ahluwalia, who demanded 100 crore rupees as advertisement payment over four years? Their original demand was 20 crore rupees which went up to 100 crore rupees. There were negotiations for three days in September. If Zee News got ads there will be no negative reports about Jindal Steel and Power Ltd (JSPL) in all Zee channels and DNA, English newspaper belonging to the same group.
Bangaru Laxman got bail after many months. The persons who gave money were not sentenced. Sukh Ram who was guilty of taking a bribe of 3,00,000 rupees got bail within days.
In March suddenly DNA came up with some reports about corruption in defence deals. Then they stopped. What happened? Who gave them ad contracts? Renuka Chowdhury was a target. What did she do to stop DNA?
JSPL had filed an FIR against Zee Group on 2/10/2012. They had submitted audio and video tapes of conversations. On 10/10/2012 Broadcast Editors’ Association (BEA) set up a three-member committee to investigate allegations made by JSPL. On 18/10/2012 BEA sacked Sudhir Chaudhary as treasurer and terminated his primary membership.
JSPL also filed a complaint with Press Council chairperson Markandey Katju and submitted copies of FIR and documents to prove that Zee sought advertisements for Diligent Media Corporation Ltd that publishes DNA. Katju forwarded the complaint to Jagdish Sharan Verma, chairperson of News Broadcasting Standards Authority.
On 25/10/2012 Naveen Jindal went public and released 15 minutes of video clips. A politician had conducted a sting operation on a news channel. Normally it is the other way round. The hunter had become the hunted. Jaya Jaitly and others who were at the receiving end of Zee News telecasts must be smiling.
Zee editors defended themselves. They said they were offered a bribe. They went with a dummy contract. Their defence is hollow. Naveen Jindal has demanded the cancellation of licences of Zee News and Zee Business.
The issue is not of paid news or false news. It is of blackmail and extortion. They are crimes. Many newspapers and news channels demand ads from governments on birth and death anniversaries of leaders and other occasions. It will be nice if Manish Tewary and other politicians expose them.