Odisha News Insight

OTV Boycott: Ruling Party shows signs of Nervousness

ONI Bureau: Barring a few supporters and newly appointed Cyber Warriors, no sane person would accept BJD’s decision to boycott Odisha’s No. 1 Channel OTV, which has been the darling of majority of Odias, not because of any Govt support, but thanks to the quality content and credibility it has built over the years.

Anyone, who watched OTV for years, won’t deny the fact that the channel hardly promoted Baijayant Panda or his programmes. Instead, it covered BJD programmes, CM Naveen Patnaik and other Ministers extensively. It’s only recently it started showing Jay Panda after his fight against the system turned bitter following the egg/stone attack on him in Mahanga last year.

BJD, which claims to have massive support of people in Odisha, looks disturbed and uncomfortable when OTV shows any negative news against the CM’s Private Secretary. First, they approached the EC during Bijepur Bypoll; now they decided to boycott the channel by not sending panelists to its debates and discussions, accusing it of bias.

The allegations levelled by BJD or any programmes shown on OTV against the party may be debatable. The party can always counter if anything goes against its schemes or policies. But, if the party has really taken such a retrograde decision in support of any Officer, then it’s a dangerous trend.

Like the BJP at the Centre, which has good control over the national media, BJD probably is trying to replicate the same model in Odisha. It has most TV Channels and Newspapers in its kitty. By boycotting OTV, it sends a clear signal to all media houses – either fall in line or face the music.

Why a TV Channel will show what suits the government or ruling party? If indeed it had done in the past, it was a mistake. And, there is a scope for reform at any point of time irrespective of the circumstances. As told by Indian Express Editor-in-Chief Raj Kamal Jha, “Criticism from Government is a Badge of Honour for Journalists”. And, whether Journalists or Media Houses, they must keep it in mind. They are the watchdogs; they can make the Govt accountable to public. Once they become Cheerleaders, it would be all over and people’s trust would be eroded.

The decision taken by the BJD today, has set a wrong precedent. Neither the BJD leaders nor CM Naveen Patnaik in the past showed any intolerance and vengeance towards media. That’s why the decision came as a shock and surprise to all.

A strong and invincible party with under a popular CM did no justice to its stature and credibility by going after a TV Channel. Instead, it made a mockery of itself. Hope good sense prevails and the decision is reversed before it’s too late.

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