Kanojia, Kappan And Other Media V/S State Cases

Kanojia, Kappan And Other Media V/S State Cases

After spending a week in jail post arrest by the Mumbai Police, Arnab Goswami was granted relief by the Supreme Court today. With India’s Press Freedom Rank being as low as 142, there have been incidents of media being muzzled by different state governments in recent. Let us look at some of media v/s state cases.

Crux of the Matter

Siddique Kappan

  • Arrested by Uttar Pradesh police.
  • Arrested while he was on way to Hathras to cover the rape and murder of a Dalit teenager.
  • Charged under Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act – accused of “conspiring” against the state.
  • Not allowed to meet lawyers or family as alleged by his wife.

Prashant Kanojia

  • Arrested recently for alleged fake social media post about “Ayodhya’s Ram Temple”.
  • Recently released after 80 days in prison.
  • Also arrested in 2018 for allegedly sharing the video of a woman wanting to marry UP chief minister Yogi Adityanath.

Asad Rizvi

  • Alleged assault by UP Police.
  • Incident occurred while Rizvi was covering Hathras protest.
  • Also alleged attempts by Police to damage his phone and equipment.

Sameet Thakkar

  • Arrested for “objectionable” comments against Aditya Thackeray – son of Maharashtra CM Uddhav Thackeray.
  • Allegedly used the term ‘Baby Penguin’ in one of his tweets.

Pawan Kumar Jaiswal

  • Arrested after making a video of midday meal in Mirzapur.
  • Video showed children being provided only salt and roti (bread) for midday meal in Mirzapur district (Uttar Pradesh).
  • Arrested for “criminal conspiracy” and defaming State Government.

Media v/s State In Lockdown
Rights and Risk Analysis Group (RRAG) claims that 55 journalists were arrested or got FIRs between March 25 and May 31 during the lockdown. These arrests/FIRs were allegedly for their reporting on the Covid-19 situation in the nation.

As per a report of the Thakur Foundation:

  • Justice Chandrachud has consistently upheld that “Dissent is the safety valve of democracy”. He led the SC bench that granted Arnab Goswami bail after his arrest by Mumbai police saying, “If this court does not interfere today, we are travelling on the path of destruction.”
  • India ranked 142nd in the Press Freedom Index in 2020. Norway and Finland ranked 1st and 2nd respectively in the list.
  • Arnab Goswami has a Y level of security that includes round-the-clock protection from around 11 personnel and 1 or 2 armed commandos for close proximity protection.
  • Arnab’s father, Manoranjan Goswami is a retired Indian Army officer and a BJP member, who has contested as a BJP candidate in the general election, from Guwahati.
  • Prasar Bharti is India’s largest public broadcasting agency which comprises Doordarshan and All India Radio (AIR).

Trump, Biden And Media Partisanship

Trump, Biden And Media Partisanship

As one of the most polarising elections draws near, several media as well as scientific journals have endorsed Biden and opposed Trump. The phenomenon has ignited the age old debate: if and when should media be non-partisan?

Crux of the Matter

Rolling Stone Magazine
Rolling Stones magazine recently announced its official endorsement of Democrat candidate Joe Biden. Previously, the magazine had endorsed Hillary Clinton over Bernie Sanders in the 2016 Elections. The magazine wrote “we’ve lived for the past four years under a man categorically unfit to be president” for Donald Trump.

Rolling Stone magazine also wrote that “four years of Trump have left 215,000 of us and counting dead from a serious but preventable public-health crisis, and the public’s faith in its elected representatives at an all-time low”. They backed Biden by saying that his “platform offers progressive solutions to every major problem facing the country”.

USA Today
USA Today, reportedly the “highest-circulation newspaper” of the US, endorsed a candidate for the first time. It has claimed that “Biden is well-positioned to repair the wreckage Trump has made of the federal government”.

USA Today cited a Washington Post report, which claims that Trump made 20,000 false/misleading claims within 1,267 days of service. On average, that comes down to 15.8 false/misleading claims per day.

Science Journals
In an unprecedented move, several scientific journals have openly endorsed Biden or opposed Trump. The move came amidst Trump claiming “people are tired of hearing Fauci (top US epidemiologist) and all these idiots”.

  • The Lancet Oncology wrote, “Trump has repeatedly politicised, undermined, and slashed funding to US federal scientific and health agencies” – and officially endorsed Biden.
  • Scientific American wrote, “Trump has badly damaged the U.S. and its people—because he rejects evidence and science”. Endorsed Biden – its first endorsement in 175 years.

Republicans Against Trump
Republican Voters Against Trump, The Lincoln Project, and several other groups comprising of former Republicans have been formed. These groups have urged people to vote against Trump (Republican candidate).

  • Michael Steele, the first African American chairman of the Republican National Committee, has openly backed Biden against Trump.
  • Ron Reagan, son of former President Ronald Reagan (Republican), recently claimed that his father would have been “horrified” of Trump administration.
  • NY Times reported in June 2020 that former President George W Bush (Republican) would vote for Biden instead of Trump.

Twitter And Hunter
Twitter and Facebook recently restricted a story regarding Joe Biden’s son Hunter, with Twitter banning the sharing of the link. The story, coming from New York Post, has claimed that Hunter arranged a meeting between “a Ukrainian energy firm and his father” when his father was the vice president.

The story has been labelled “false” by several fact-checks. However, Twitter later reversed the ban.

Question For Readers

Overall, two camps exist regarding non-partisanship in media:

  1. Media should always be non-partisan.
  2. Non-partisanship can be abandoned in times of emergency.

Here are 2 questions for the readers:

  • Should media always be non-partisan?
  • Is the current situation fit to be called ‘Emergency’ where non-partisanship can be abandoned?

Send us your views on namaskar@summachar.in.

  • The United States federal government shutdown of 2018–2019 occurred from December 22, 2018, until January 25, 2019 (35 days). It was the longest U.S. government shutdown in history of the USA. The shutdown stemmed from an impasse over Trump’s demand for $5.7 billion in federal funds for a U.S.–Mexico border wall.
  • The Apprentice is an American reality television program that judges the business skills of a group of contestants. Donald Trump was the show’s host for the first fourteen seasons, with the show affording him popularity that contributed to his rise to the presidency of the United States.
  • The 1988 presidential campaign of Joe Biden was considered one of the potentially strongest campaigns in the field. However, in September 1987, newspaper stories stated he had plagiarized a speech by British politician Neil Kinnock. Other allegations of past law school plagiarism and exaggerating his academic record soon followed. Biden withdrew from the race later that month.

FDI Norms In Media Extended To Aggregators

FDI Norms In Media Extended To Aggregators

In September 2019, India’s Commerce Ministry announced that digital media would also fall under the ambit of FDI laws pertaining to print and broadcast media. However, there was no clarity on whether it would be applicable to news aggregating platforms. The clarification for the same came in recent, with the government bringing aggregators under the FDI norms. Let’s understand how it will affect digital media.

Crux of the Matter

FDI In Media
Until September 2019, there were no limitations on Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) on digital news platforms in India. Websites like Microsoft, HuffPost, etc, were running almost entirely on foreign funds. In September 2019, Commerce Ministry announced a cap of 26% FDI, that too only after govt approval, on digital platforms uploading/streaming news and current affairs. However, there was no clarity on whether news aggregators like InShorts, and DailyHunt, would fall under this FDI norm.

In India, 26% FDI is allowed in print media, and 49% in broadcast (television) media.

Recent Update
On 16th October 2020, the Indian government clarified the 2019 digital media FDI policy and said that news aggregators would also be required to comply with the 26% FDI norm. According to I&B Ministry officials, the influence and interference of foreign entities on India’s domestic affairs should be checked including Chinese and other overseas funding entities in new digital platforms.

The concern over aggregators was raised by the Indian Newspaper Society (INS), as the presence of Chinese and foreign-owned digital media platforms were not required to comply with the FDI norms. As per INS entities like Dailyhunt, InShorts, Opera News, NewsDog, UC News, etc. were included.

Who Will Be Affected?
Indian entities registered or located in the country that are digital media entities streaming or uploading news and current affairs on websites, apps and other platforms will have to abide by the new rules. Popular news aggregators such as Dailyhunt and InShorts are expected to abide by the new rules.

Dailyhunt has received investment from Falcon Edge, Stonebridge Capital, Goldman Sachs, and from Chinese entities such as ByteDance.

InShorts has received investment from Japan’s Rebright Partners and American venture capitalist, Lee Fixel and Tiger Global.  

What Changes For The Aggregators?
Digital news aggregators will have 1 year from the date of issue of clarification to bring down the FDI to 26% with the approval from the Central government. The majority of the directors and CEO of the digital applications must hold Indian citizenship, as it will aid the government to seek accountability. Foreign directors and CEOs will require security clearance.

These new changes come only a few months after the government re-worked the Press Act, in which they made it mandatory for all online news portals to register with the government. Many experts also see this as an attempt to curb the false narratives on digital media as the platform lacks a self-regulating body, unlike in print or TV. It will also bring uniformity between FDI limits in prints and digital media platforms. 

  • The Indian Newspaper Society acts as the central organization of the Press of India, an independent body authenticating circulation figures of newspapers. It plays a major role in protecting and promoting the freedom of press in India. The society was founded in 1939.
  • The industries which produce news and entertainment content for the mass media are often called “the media”. In the late 20th century it became commonplace for this usage to be construed as singular (“The media is…”) rather than as the traditional plural. 
  • Hicky’s Bengal Gazette was an English language weekly newspaper published in Calcutta (now Kolkata), the capital of British India. It was the first newspaper printed in Asia and was published for two years, between 1780 and 1782, before the East India Company seized the newspaper’s types and printing press.

News Media and FDI

The influence of news media on control of global narratives has come into question as China and other countries try to get on top of the news during a pandemic. China has tried to control the news around the spread of the disease. USCIRF downgraded India’s rank and many other nations have tried to smudge India’s face on the international front in recent. How does India plan to fight the misinformation and control narratives?
Complete Coverage: Coronavirus

Crux of the Matter

What’s the deal?
China is accused of covering up information about Coronavirus. Recently, it added a vetting process for online publication of research related to the origin of Coronavirus. Many foreign and domestic media developed a one-sided image of India through their platforms after India passed the Citizenship Amendment Act in December 2019. Recent reports published by Indian agencies state that Pakistan’s ISI is involved in a misinformation campaign to accentuate the religious divide in India. Also, a twitter account called “@Pak_Fauj” masqueraded as Princess of Oman and tweeted to oust Indians in Oman if India does not stop the persecution of Indian Muslims. UUS religious freedom watchdog USCIRF downgraded India’s rating to ‘Country of Particular Concern’. India rejected the report, condemned USCIRF for being biased and motivated. All these instances showcsae the power of media in today’s age.

Are geopolitical interests passed into the mainstream through investment in media? If yes, what shield does India have?

FDI in Media
In 2019, the Indian government announced that up to 26% FDI is allowed in Digital Media. Digital Media category has come out of the broader print and broadcast media. Before this announcement, there was no limit on FDI in digital media companies. However, the FDI limit for print media is 26% and broadcast media/news channel is 49%.

Then, a lot of industry players raised questions on the survival of companies like HuffPost of Microsoft’s news websites that operate from foreign and are funded 100% by non-Indian entities. Other things like is this India’s beginning to ban overseas media as China did popped up as well.

However, with the growing influence of Chinese and other media, would India’s move to restrict or filter misinformation from outside through indirectly controlling the stake in the company be of assistance today?

Peeking Beyond
Media can be used as a tool to control the narratives. Historically, China has banned outside media to a large extent and recently it banned publication of research papers on the origin of Coronavirus. Chinese media has a significant presence in the Indian digital media industry. ByteDance’s TikTok and Helo, Newsdog, etc. are widespread in the Indian digital media space. American media also has influence in the Indian media with Quint associating with Bloomberg, Wire’s founder hailing from America, and presence of HuffPost, MSNBC, CNN IBN, Network18’s channels, etc.

According to a 2019 report, China plans to invest $1.3 bn to increase the global presence of Chinese Media. China Global Television Network (CGTN) has reached 140 nations and China Radio International 65.

Can India’s FDI norm in media help pick out the weeds in the global media placed by notorious agencies backed by nations trying to establish a narrative?
Will India start developing its own narrative?

  • ByteDance was founded in 2012 by Zhang Yiming. As of 2019, with more than 1 billion monthly users, ByteDance is valued at $75 billion, making it the most valuable startup in the world. Zhang’s personal wealth is estimated at $16.2 billion, making him the ninth richest person in China.
  • BloombergQuint is an Indian business and financial news organization founded in 2016 by Raghav Bahl and Ritu Kapur. It is a joint venture of Bloomberg News and Quintillion Media. Within six months of going live, the web portal received one million monthly users.
  • The United States remains the largest recipient of FDI, attracting $251 billion in inflows, followed by China with flows of $140 billion and Singapore with $110 billion. While India attracted approximately $49 billion in 2019.

I&B Ministry bans 2 Malayalam TV channels for biased coverage of Delhi riots

On charges of biased reporting of Delhi riots with a deliberate focus on the vandalism of CAA supporters, the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (I&B) had suspended two Malayalam news channels – Asianet and Media One for 48-hours on 6th March 2020.

Crux of the Matter

Breach of Law, Says IB
The I&B Ministry reprimanded both the channels and said that such reporting could enhance the communal disharmony and it should have been reported in a balanced way.

The Ministry says the coverage of Delhi riots violated Rule 6(1c) which states that ‘no program should be carried in the cable service which contains an attack on religions or communities or visuals or words contemptuous of religious groups or which promote communal attitudes.’

Secondly, they were also held responsible for violating Rule 6(1e) that states that ‘no program should be carried in the cable service which is likely to encourage or incite violence or contains anything against maintenance of law and order or which promote anti-national attitudes.’

The Central government had revoked the ban on 7th March hours after the two channels were charged for ‘being biased and critical of the police and RSS.’

News Broadcasting Association President Rajat Sharma condemned the decision of the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting and said, “I am shocked to learn that a decision like this was taken without the knowledge of the Minister for Information & Broadcasting.”

The NBA has asked that all complaints relating to the broadcast of news should be referred to the News Broadcasting Standards Authority (NBSA). Rajat Sharma also demanded an inquiry in this regard and appreciated the concern shown by PM Narendra Modi in this matter and the subsequent withdrawal of the imposed ban.

I&B Minister Mr.Prakash Javadekar said, “The PM has expressed concern over the entire issue… and the government supports press freedom. We would look into the matter and take the necessary steps. But let me also tell you that everybody should accept that there has to be responsible freedom.”

Media One is owned by Madhyamam Broadcasting Limited which is backed by Jamaat-e-Islami. Asianet News is indirectly owned by BJP Rajya Sabha MP Rajeev Chandrasekhar.


The News Broadcasters Association is a private association of different current affairs and news television broadcasters in India established by leading Indian news broadcasters on 3 July 2007. The NBA represents the private television news & current affairs broadcasters. It is the collective voice of the news & current affairs broadcasters in India. It has presently 27 leading news and current affairs broadcasters (comprising 77 news and current affairs channels) as its members lead by Mr.Rajat Sharma (Chairman and Editor-in-Chief of India TV) as the President. More Info