Misuse of ‘power’ of media not new: But does it help much?

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New Delhi: The point that foreign funding has been used and abused to misuse the power of new generation media tool – the websites – has again made news after the Enforcement Directorate found something questionable about 'Newsclick'.
BJP spokesman Sambit Patra was angry and he ventilated his anguish saying thus – "The only agenda of these so-called portals and Newsclick is to spread the propaganda of a foreign nation and defame India. Some foreign powers and Indian politicians have teamed up to spread unrest". Newsclick has of course denied any wrong doing.
It has been reported by between 2018 and 2021, 'Newsclick' received Rs 38 crore from abroad and the money was allegedly channelled through Neville Roy Singham, an American of Sri Lankan origin, who works for the propaganda arm of the Chinese Communist Party.
In fact, often the entire media propaganda policies are misguided.
In the 1980s under Rajiv Gandhi, actually the misuse of Doordarshan and All India Radio had reached its peak. But in the ultimate did it really help Rajiv Gandhi or Congress?
In 1989 fiercely contested general elections – Rajiv-led Congress was voted out making way country’s first multi-party government headed by V P Singh. This was an era in India when noted TV critic Amita Malik had said: “The national news stars Rajiv Gandhi and HKL Bhagat and the local news features only HKL Bhagat and HKL Bhagat, a local Delhi-based leader.”
The then Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi’s media management think-tank was quite an empowered team comprising Rajiv-Sonia’s trusted man Mani Shankar Aiyar, G Parthasarathy (both IFS), senior IAS officer T N Seshan, who later transformed him to be a hard nut Babu as Chief Election Commissioner who would ‘discipline’ netas and also R K Dhawan, a principal hand in Delhi’s corridors of power from Indira Gandhi era.
Likes of Information and Broadcasting Minister H K L Bhagat, who was named in 1984 anti-Sikhb riots, simply carried out the job sincerely. Congress insiders had even circulated a line that so called ‘credibility’ of government and tax-payers money-run
DD and AIR was only a ‘urban phenomenon’ and there was no-holds-barred propaganda has been launched “to win over the rural Indian voters”. K K Tewary, a member of Rajiv’s shouting brigade during Bofors row, was junior minister of Information and Broadcasting and he had famously said: “Credibility of DD and AIR is only the concern of cocktail circuit in Delhi”.
Ironically the same ‘cocktail circuit’ is today’s Left liberal and biggest class of protectors of democracy.
And in 2021 – the 'Lutyens club' or better known also as 'Khan Market gang' – do not mind any campaign directed by foreign media including China; provided the propaganda (read free of expression – sic) is directed well against Narendra Modi and his government.
This was the era when Rajiv Gandhi was usually found repeating his one-liner in pidgin Hindi “humey dekhna hae....”. In fact, the election campaign was launched with Rajiv’s slip of the tongue: “Hum jeetenge ya loosenge ...”.
This was the time when Marxist doyen Jyoti Basu had said: “Doordarshan is not Congress Zamindari”. The Leftists were furious – of course not withstanding their new found-bonhomie with the Congress in 2021- because the West Bengal government’s legitimate request for an ‘advertisement’ for raising funds for the Bakreshwar Thermal Power plant was denied by Doordarshan Kolkata.
Under N T Rama Rao, TDP faced similar problems in Andhra Pradesh. Later on all opposition parties had ‘boycotted’ DD for a while.
Chief Minister NTR’s scheduled radio broadcast speech was once ‘edited’ out in Hyderabad! DMK Chief Minister M Karunanidhi’s speech was declined to be telecast for the reference to India-Sri Lanka agreement. Between 1984 and 1989, the government had invested a whopping Rs 800 crore for DD and AIR expansion programmes involving huge amount for construction of buildings, setting up TV towers etc.
By mid-1989, India had 20 million TV sets – a four times rise since December 1984. Data claimed nearly 74-75 per cent of India’s population was covered by DD and this was against just about 18 per cent in 1986.
On the other hand, it was being argued that as the newspapers were generally turning against Congress – except a few like the one English tabloid in Kolkata – the government had enhanced the price of newsprint at least 200 percent.
Even the Customs duty for glazed newsprint imported from outside was increased. Around the time there were officials like Shiv Sharma, one of the bosses in DD, who had said: “....even projection of national achievements is perceived as propaganda by opposition parties”.Old timers among TV viewers would recall that so much preference had to be given to Rajiv’s speeches that the infamous students protest in China would get pushed as number 3 in terms of headline. This was an era when a serial depicting Alok Nath in specs was cancelled as the actor almost looked like V P Singh.
For ‘objective news’, helpless Indians waited for a 40-minutes programme every Friday evening’s ‘The World This Week’ run by a well known ‘bearded’ TV anchor who today has again turned himself into a ‘nothing doing’ face of a so-called sickular media house.