Why CNN-IBN did not telecast trust vote sting
The Editors Guild of India has expressed shock at the pressure tactics being adopted by the Bharatiya Janata Party against CNN IBN Television channel.
Criticising BJP leader Venkaiah Naidu for declaring that his party would boycott CNN IBN, if the channel does not immediately telecast the tapes of the sting operation carried out in concert with the BJP MPs in New Delhi on Juy 22 in connection with the vote of confidence in the Lok Sabha, the Guild said: “The freedom of an editor to publish or telecast any news item cannot be subject to the approval or disapproval of a political party.”
” In the instant case, the editor of CNN IBN has made it oublic that the investigation into the bribery case is incomplete and only if all the facts are authenticated, the channel would telecast the tapes,” it added.
It said that the Code of Practice of the Editors Guild of India also exhorts editors to check and verify facts before publication or telecast.
2 August, 2008
No Superlatives For The Telly This Week
WHAT A WEEK ON television. With Parliament going the way of ‘Bigg Boss,’ it was fun and games all around. Much has already been said about this, so let me focus on a couple of things that go beyond the outrage-shame-what-we-have-come-to stuff that we all know.
For one, this was actually a debate with some notable speeches. While the methods surrounding the trust vote were what they were, the issue at hand was a substantive one, and was dealt with a measure of seriousness, at least by some. Secondly, the channels were curiously out-gunned by the reality unfolding on our screens. No superlatives could re-frame or add to what we were seeing ourselves. It was thus not surprising that NDTV, with its focus on providing a commentary to what was being seen, made for the most compelling viewing.
CNN IBN’s decision not to telecast the tapes was never properly explained and too little attention has been focused on that. Why would a channel willingly forego that kind of an advantage? Even if the sting was inconclusive, why not share it with viewers with that caveat? It might well have been an act of responsibility, something that is so rare today, but some more information on this would have been helpful.
The Hindustan Times has a new layout for its edit page which is, well, new. While it boasts a very readable panel of writers (Vir Sanghvi, Barkha Dutt, the extremely talented Kushalrani Gulab to name but a few), its attempts at satire are consistently and unerringly unfunny. Features like Quote-Unquote and The Dialogue are embarrassingly bad.
NDTV India has a food show hosted by Vinod Dua and while he is portly enough to suggest a fondness for food, he is far too pedantic for a show like this. He conducts himself with all the back-slapping cheerfulness of a pathologist, conducting an autopsy on the things he puts in his mouth while giving us a running commentary of his own actions (“This is a ‘raj bhog’ which I am now putting in my mouth…”). On the other hand, Highway on My Plate on NDTV Good Times is an amazingly good show that exudes an effortless air of breezy gluttony. The two anchors Mayur and Rocky are relaxed, spontaneous and make endearingly bad jokes while stuffing themselves with prodigious quantities of food. Unlike other Indian food shows which either feature five-star chefs who convert the kitchen into an operation theatre or upper class ‘foodies’ behaving in an awkwardly patronising way with street food, this is a show that rings true every single time. Above all, it almost always makes you hungry. Always a good sign.
Tehelka Magazine, Vol 5, Issue 31, Dated Aug 09, 2008
Sulking & bullying
There’s three sides to every story — your side, my side and the truth.” That old journalistic saw has acquired a whole new meaning in this peculiar confrontation between the BJP and CNN-IBN. The BJP now says that it will boycott appearances on the news network, unless CNN-IBN airs raw footage of the cash-for-votes sting operation that rocked Parliament. It has also magnanimously offered to help the channel resist “government pressure” in the higher cause of press freedom. Meanwhile, CNN-IBN argues that its story has too many loose ends and is not ready to be aired.
The party is understandably sore — the scandal that was to topple the government now looks like a lame, amateurish damp squib disowned by those who participated in it. But there is a cardinal question the BJP must answer. What is the party trying to achieve by boycotting the channel’s studios, other then proclaiming loudly that it is opting out of the democratic game? This is not about a particular media outlet. The question is more fundamental. For that is what the umbilical connection between political players and the media in a democracy like India entails. To say that you will not go to them but they can come to you — for instance, for party briefings — is self-defeating to begin with. It also raises ethical questions that hark back to the issue of a political party’s democratic responsibility. The BJP might just end up as a double loser. The BJP and CNN-IBN — that is, politicians and the media — feed off each other. While the network needs its talking heads to bloviate in its studios, how much will power will the BJP’s sound-bite soldiers need to resolutely keep shut, not getting a word in edgeways as national debates are enacted without them?
There’s a cautionary tale in the CNN-IBN “sting operation”. It’s not just about press freedom or responsibility. It is also about politicians’ democratic duties.
August 02, 2008
The Indian Express
Press Statement issued by M. Venkaiah Naidu
The Bharatiya Janata Party is deeply dismayed by the decision of CNN-IBN not to telecast the "notes-for-votes" sting operation, which the channel conducted with the cooperation of three BJP MPs. The whole country watched with shock and disbelief when the three MPs produced wads of currency notes on the floor of the Lok Sabha on July 22 shortly before the Trust Vote was taken. The money was paid to Shri Ashok Argal, BJP MP, at his residence by a person representing a senior Samajwadi Party leader as "advance" for the MPs to abstain from voting that afternoon. The entire episode and the background that led to that transaction, was filmed through hidden cameras by a CNN-IBN team. Subsequently, the channel interviewed all the three MPs as a prelude to the promised telecast of the tapes.
More than a week has passed since one of the most sordid events in India's Parliamentary history was captured on camera. Now the channel says that it has not aired the tapes since the investigation is "incomplete" and has some "loose ends". This contention flies in the face of all accepted ethics of professional journalism. The job of the media is to bring information gathered by it into the public domain. It is not for a TV channel or newspaper to complete investigations and pronounce a verdict. That job must be left to investigating agencies and the judicial process.
Only one conclusion can be drawn from the channel's volte-face : It has come under severe pressure from the Government and/or certain corporate houses. Consequently, it has not only broken its promise to the MPs to telecast the scandalous episode immediately, but also denied the people of India their sacrosanct right to information in a matter of the highest public importance. It is now up to CNN-IBN to disprove this lingering suspicion.
The mere handling over of the tapes to the Lok Sabha Speaker, that too after a mysterious lapse of 24 hours, is not adequate. Since the entire country saw wads of notes being waved inside the House, the people have the right to know about the origin and circumstances leading to this unprecedented display. The BJP MPs acted in the highest national interest as whistle-blowers on a scandal that dwarfs all previous incidents of parliamentarians being lured with cash to vote in a particular way.
The channel's statement dated July 29, 2008 makes it virtually clear that it has no intention of allowing the people of India to witness the shameful actions of top leaders of the ruling alliance who discarded every norm of public morality to the wind in a desperate bid to save the already tainted Manmohan Singh Government.
In the background of the sting operation's obduracy, the BJP has been compelled to decide that it will boycott CNN-IBN and channels related to it till such time as the unedited tapes of the "notes-for-votes" scandal are telecast. Till then no BJP functionary in Delhi or in the states will appear on CNN-IBN programmes, whether in their studios or outside. The BJP believes that the channel's decision to withhold the tapes from the public seriously compromises the freedom of the Press. The party regrets that instead of upholding the right to information, CNN-IBN has resorted to the suppression of truth.
Even at this stage, the BJP calls upon the channel to revise its decision and telecast the tapes without any further delay. The party will happily review its decision to boycott CNN-IBN as soon as the tapes are aired. The BJP, needless to add, remains deeply committed to preserve and protect the freedom of the press and is prepared to assist, in whatever way possible, media organisations to withstand Government and corporate interference in their working.
31 July, 2008
BJP Press Release
Why CNN-IBN did not telecast trust vote sting
In the last week, there has been speculation over an alleged ‘sting’ operation conducted by CNN-IBN to expose allegations of bribery in the run-up to the trust vote in Parliament.
Since the speculation is based on hearsay, conjecture and mere guess-work, we at CNN-IBN, the country's leading English news channel, feel that it is necessary to set the record straight. As a journalist-driven organisation, we value our credibility and independence above all else.
We have always striven to raise the bar of journalism, to ensure that the highest standards and procedures are followed at all times.
The 'sting' operation conducted by our investigation team was part of this commitment to ensure that the public interest is enhanced. Our team had begun the investigations at least a week before the trust vote and the 'sting' was to be part of a wide-ranging investigation across the political spectrum into allegations of horse trading.
Moreover, the 'sting' operation we conducted was unique in that neither were we participants, nor were we engaging in 'entrapment' by offering cash, nor were we under a false identity.
We were, as is accepted in practices in the international press, 'flies on the wall', simply recording an alleged bribery operation, without interfering in it at any stage.
Why have we not telecast the story so far? Quite simply, we have chosen not to telecast the story yet because we did not feel that the story was complete.
Credible journalism is based on accuracy not speed, facts not sensationalism, reportage not allegations and assumptions. Our rigorous editorial protocol demands that even a hidden camera shoot is absolutely water-tight.
In this particular story, there were many loose ends that needed to be cross-checked, corroborated and investigated further before the story could be aired.
As it transpired, even before we could complete the process of investigation, three BJP MPs made allegations in parliament of having been bribed and displayed cash in the House.
In the politically surcharged circumstances, we felt that the more appropriate step would be to provide the recordings we had made till date to the Speaker of the Lok Sabha as the appropriate constitutional authority.
All the raw, unedited footage was placed before the Speaker within 24 hours of Parliament fracas. Not a single frame has been edited in any form.
The Speaker has subsequently ordered an inquiry, which media reports suggest, is to be completed by the 11th of August. We will fully co-operate with Parliamentary panel and provide them all information available with us.
At the same time, as we have informed the Speaker's office, we reserve the right to telecast the story as and when we believe we are in a position to do so.
As part of the process of due diligence, we also consulted several constitutional experts, including the country's former solicitor general and leading jurist Mr Harish Salve.
Mr Salve has strongly validated our editorial call in a written opinion. He writes, and I quote, "I have reviewed the tapes as also a transcript created from the tapes. I would not like to describe in detail what I have seen, since the matter is pending investigation, but in my considered view the investigation was incomplete and therefore airing the tapes at this stage would necessarily involve arriving at some 'inferences'. The investigation by the channel was not ready for telecast in the sense to be a cast iron story (which such stories should be), it did require some more enquiry into certain matters, which could have been done but was rendered impossible by the fact that on the afternoon of 22nd July itself, the three MPs raised this issue in parliament and then went on to make public the fact that this has been recorded by CNN IBN. Obviously, after this fact became publicly known, all sources of information dried up."
Mr Salve adds, "The question to be considered is should the channel air the tapes as they are, without suggesting inferences, so that the unnecessary gossip as to its contents (as well as the innuendo as to the motives in not telecasting the tapes) is quelled, or should the channel await the completion of the enquiry under way by the parliamentary panel set up the Hon'ble Speaker in response to a complaint received by him. In my view, the channel should await the results of the enquiry, atleast until a period of a fortnight or so is over... I believe that the Speaker has requested the panel to conclude its enquiry within a fortnight or so. If the report is received within the expected time, the matter would again be in the public domain and the channel can then review the situation and decide whether to telecast the tapes."
We would like to reiterate that at CNN-IBN we remain committed to quality and independent journalism. Our commitment is to the truth.
Truth that cannot be partial, inconclusive or sensational, but one that must adhere to exacting standards of fairness and accuracy.
July 31, 2008
Letter from BJP Ministers to Speaker
27th July 2008
The Honourable Speaker
Subject: Complaint against Shri Reoti Raman Singh, Member of Parliament (Lok Sabha); Shri Amar Singh, General Secretary of the Samajwadi Party; and Shri Ahmed Patel, Political Secretary to the Congress president for attempting to bribe three Members of Parliament (Lok Sabha) — Shri Ashok Argal (Morena, Madhya Pradesh), Shri Mahavir Baghora (Salumbar, Rajasthan) and Shri Faggan Singh Kulaste (Mandla, Madhya Pradesh) — in the ‘Cash-for-Votes’ scandal on July 22, 2008
1: You may kindly recall that on July 22, 2008 we had personally met you in your chamber and recounted the scandalous manner in which we were sought to be bribed by leaders of the Congress and the Samajwadi Party to help the UPA Government by refraining from voting against the Confidence Motion. Pursuant to our oral complaint made in your chamber on 22 July, you had promised on the floor of the House to order investigation and to take appropriate action against all those responsible. In response to your letter dated 23 July 2008 received late night, we are hereby giving a written complaint.
The detailed facts are as follows:
2: The UPA Government lost its majority on 9 July 2008 when the Left parties withdrew support to it. This led to Respected Rashtrapatiji asking the Prime Minister to seek the trust of the House in a special session of the Lok Sabha on 21-22 July.
Even though the Samajwadi Party had pledged its support to the UPA Government on 9 July, it was obvious from the numerical representation of various parties in the House that the UPA Government was in no position to prove its majority without engineering defections from the non-UPA ranks. Leaders of the Congress and the Samajwadi Party started boasting about large-scale defections from non-UPA parties. Some sections of the media even published names of non-UPA MPs who were going to either vote for the Government or abstain from voting. On 14 July, Shri A.B. Bardhan, General Secretary of the Communist Party of India alleged at a public rally in New Delhi that the Congress-led UPA was indulging in horse-trading and mentioned an ongoing rate of Rs 25 crore per MP. The entire nation was shocked to hear this.
On 20 July Shri Amar Singh announced at a press conference in New Delhi that BJP MP, Shri Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh, would support the Government in the trust vote. With Shri Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh by his side at the widely covered press conference, Shri Amar Singh also claimed that more non-UPA MPs would defect soon. "We have opened our first card,” he stated. “When we open our other cards on 22 July, many will be taken aback."
3: Apart from MPs from other non-UPA parties and independent MPs, our names also were being mentioned in the list of “soft targets” and that we were vulnerable. Many power-brokers through their intermediaries contacted us but we did not take their approaches seriously. When we were approached directly, we decided to expose the masterminds of the cash-for-votes racket.
4: We contacted CNN-IBN news channel, which deputed its correspondent Shri Siddharth Gautam to record the whistle-blowing operation and to expose the UPA’s unethical plot to convert its minority Government into majority Government by stooping to any levels.
5: In the first instance, on July 21, one of the intermediaries took us to Meridian Hotel where he said a senior Congress leader would meet us and give us money for abstaining in the trust vote. This meeting, however, did not materialize.
6: Late in the evening on July 21, we received a message from Shri Reoti Raman Singh, a senior leader of the Samajwadi Party and its MP, that he would meet us at the residence of Shri Ashok Argal at 4 Ferozshah Road. He came after midnight. He promised us that our interests would be taken care of and that we should accompany him to meet Shri Amar Singh. He further maintained that we should have a face to face meeting with Shri Amar Singh and that all issues including the amount payable to us would be settled by him. The entire meeting and conversation was recorded by the CNN-IBN team, which had bugged the room with hidden cameras.
7: The next morning, on July 22, two of us — namely, Shri Ashok Argal and Shri Fagan Singh Kulaste — were taken for the meeting with Shri Amar Singh at his residence at 27 Lodhi Estate, New Delhi. We went in car no. DL-7S-1882, a white Maruti Zen. Our car was followed by CNN-IBN’s car with Shri Sidharth Gautam. Our visit to Shri Amar Singh’s house and back was video recorded by the CNN-IBN reporter.
8: We met Shri Amar Singh at his residence. He boasted that although he had already “managed” the requisite number, still since Shri Reoti Raman Singh had met us and arranged the meeting, he would pay Rs. 3 crore each for abstaining from voting on July 22. We mentioned that we have one more MP willing to abstain. He agreed to pay the same amount to the third MP. Thereafter, he spoke to Shri Ahmed Patel on phone and said, “I have three more Kamals (Lotuses) here.” He also made us speak to Shri Ahmed Patel, who gave his consent to the arrangement.
Shri Amar Singh offered to pay us an initial token amount of Rs. one crore and asked us to carry it with us. We declined, saying it was unsafe with journalists standing outside his house. Shri Amar Singh promised to send the amount with his assistant, Shri Sanjeev Saxena, within 15 minutes.
9: As per Shri Amar Singh’s promise, his assistant, who indeed identified himself as Shri Sanjeev Saxena, arrived at 4 Ferozshah Road soon after our reaching there. He and his colleague came in a white Gypsy car no. DL-2C-S-8562, which was noted down by our staff. He was led into the same drawing room, which had already been bugged with hidden cameras. Shri Saxena and one more person accompanying him had carried the money in a bag and emptied its contents on a table in front of the chairs on which we were sitting. The amount of Rs. 1 crore was in ten bundles of Rs. 10 lakhs each, most of it in currency notes of Rs. 1000.
10: Shri Saxena asked for the identification of the third MP, whom Shri Ashok Argal introduced as Shri Mahavir Baghora. Shri Saxena kept trying to connect Shri Amar Singh’s telephone number, which was repeatedly coming busy. Finally, he got all three of us to speak to Shri Amar Singh. After we three spoke to Shri Amar Singh, Shri Saxena gave the money to us on behalf of Shri Amar Singh. This money of Rs. one crore was the initial token amount and the balance of Rs. 8 crore was promised to be paid later. This entire episode was also recorded by the CNN-IBN team.
11: Besides Shri Sidharth Gautam, three more persons from the CNN-IBN team were present in Shri Argal’s house. Also present in the house was one of our Party colleagues.
12: After Shri Sanjeev Saxena’s departure, the CNN-IBN team rearranged the bundles on the table and captured on camera the serial numbers of the first and the last currency notes in each of the ten bundles.
13: Thereafter, Shri Siddharth Gautam conducted an elaborate interview with us in the same room, with the amount of Rs. 1 crore placed in front us on the table. The interview was recorded on a regular camera and included a full narration of the entire sequence of two days.
Shri Siddharth Gautam then recorded an introduction for a promo to the investigative report which, among other things, said, “For the first time in the history of Indian Parliament, the scandal of horse-trading has been captured on camera by the investigative team of CNN-IBN.”
14: The CNN-IBN team completed their recordings, removed their bugging equipment from the room and left the house of Shri Ashok Argal at around noon on July 22. Before departing, the team assured us that the programme, along with the promo, would be telecast soon.
15: At around 4.30 pm, we walked up to the table of the Secretary General, in front of the Speaker’s Chair, took out the money from the bags and displayed it before all the Honourable Members as tell-tale proof of the “cash for votes” scandal. We also wanted to establish before Parliament and the nation the level to which the UPA had stooped to procure a majority which they did not have. In doing so, we were motivated by the desire to save democracy from pernicious influence of money power.
16: The House was adjourned and we were called to your Chamber. We narrated all the events to your Honourable Self in the presence of leaders of various political parties. The money given by Shri Amar Singh was deposited in your office against receipt.
17: In view of the gravity of the bribery scandal and blatant inducement to Members of Parliament to defy their party whips, illegally help the Government to cobble a majority, and thereby subvert Constitutional and parliamentary norms, we would request you to take prompt and the most stringent action against the wrong-doers to uphold the dignity of democracy.
18: This attempt to subvert the functioning of Parliament by inducements and bribery, especially in a session devoted to the confidence motion, besides being a matter of violation of ethics is also a breach of privilege. We reserve our right to initiate criminal law action in the matter.
With kind regards,
(Member of the Lok Sabha from Morena, Madhya Pradesh)
(Member of the Lok Sabha from Salumbar, Rajasthan)
Shri Faggan Singh Kulaste
(Member of the Lok Sabha from Mandla, Madhya Pradesh)
Video footage of ‘attempt to bribe MPs’ given to Speaker
The video footage of an alleged attempt to bribe three Bharatiya Janata Party MPs was given to Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee by television channel CNN IBN. However, sources in the Lok Sabha Secretariat said the MPs have yet to give a formal complaint to the Speaker, after which a decision could be taken on initiating an inquiry.
At the Speaker’s chamber where a meeting of some party leaders took place immediately after the House was adjourned following the display of cash, Leader of Opposition L.K. Advani was reportedly told by the Speaker that he disapproved of the manner in which the BJP had gone about dealing with the alleged bribe-giving episode.
On Tuesday night, the cash was put back in the two bags in which they were brought in. The bags were then sealed in the presence of the MPs and their signatures taken that they had “tabled” the cash. The bags were then kept in a safe deposit in the room of the Lok Sabha Secretary General and the safe was sealed at 10 p.m.
Reports suggest that the Lok Sabha Secretariat is seeking advice from the Law Ministry as to what has to be done with the cash pending inquiry.
It is learnt that head of CNN IBN Rajdeep Sardesai submitted the “tapes” to the Speaker around 5 p.m. on Wednesday evening along with a letter explaining the role of the channel in the so-called “sting” operation.
23 July, 2008
'A Tainted Victory'
What happened to the tape showing the cash for votes scandal? The TV news channel had announced at at around 4.30 pm on July 22, that it had handed over the tape to the Speaker. The tapes were finally delivered at 5:30 on July 23. Why?
L K Advani
Slightly over two decades ago, a stinking corruption scandal at the highest level of the government, first unearthed by the foreign media and subsequently investigated by several courageous journalists in the Indian media, changed the political landscape in the country. Such was the public outrage created by the revelations of huge kickbacks in the purchase of Bofors guns from Sweden that the late Shri Rajiv Gandhi, who had won a four-fifth majority for the Congress party in the Lok Sabha in 1984, was swept out of power in the parliamentary elections in 1989.
The country witnessed an even more shocking bribery scandal yesterday when the Congress-led UPA government secured a completely illegitimate victory in the trust vote by manufacturing a slender majority in the House. Three BJP MPs -- Shri Ashok Argal and Shri Faggan Singh Kulaste from Madhya Pradesh and Shri Mahavir Baghora from Rajasthan -- exposed, with tell-tale evidence, of how top leaders of the Congress and Samajwadi Party conspired together to secure cross-voting and abstention of non-UPA MPs by paying them crores of rupees.
A close look at the final tally in the House shows that the government would have certainly lost the confidence motion in the absence of cross-voting and abstentions by MPs belonging to several non-UPA parties.
So shameless were activities and public pronouncements of the top functionaries of the two parties in the run-up to the trust vote that the entire country started suspecting that the government was up to some mischief. Indeed, in my speech in Parliament on 21 July, I had specifically referred to the corrupt means being employed by the government which, in the name of promising nuclear power, was resorting to "horse power" to save itself. Honourable Members from several other opposition parties also accused the government of indulging in the worst kind of horse-trading to convert its minority into majority.
The Prime Minister had asked in a tone of injured innocence: "Where is the proof?" After the incontrovertible proof that our three MPs produced in front of the Speaker, the Prime Minister has no moral right to continue in office. His is a tainted victory. After having devalued the office of the Prime Minister by allowing the misuse of several democratic institutions for highly questionable ends -- which includes misuse of the CBI and the Law Ministry in the Bofors case -- Dr. Manmohan Singh now stands exposed as one who blessed the desecration of the Temple of Democracy.
I am deeply saddened by the fact that several of our own MPs became a party to the murder of democracy. The BJP has decided to expel them with immediate effect.
The BJP profusely congratulates our brave three MPs who not only resisted the temptation of crores of rupees offered by the Congress-SP combine to abstain from the vote, but chose to expose this scandal in an effective manner.
I would also like to congratulate several other MPs, belonging to both the BJP and other political parties, for defying the threats, blackmailing tactics and allurements coming from persons in very high quarters in the government and the Congress-SP combine. They have stood by the high standards of parliamentary behavior expected from every political party.
The cash-for-votes scandal has raised serious questions about the journalistic ethic followed by the TV news channel which recorded it. The right thing for the channel to have done is to show it and let the people draw their own conclusion. Indeed, at the meeting of party leaders at the Speaker’s Chamber yesterday, several opposition leaders, including Shri Vijay Kumar Malhotra of the BJP, had demanded that the tape be shown to all MPs before the trust vote was taken.
After listening to the account given by our three MPs, the BJP is left with no doubt that, had the channel broadcast the tape, the government would have been in the dock before the trust vote was taken.
Soon after our three MPs exposed the scandal inside the House, the TV channel had announced, at around 4.30 pm yesterday, that it had handed over the tape to the Speaker. We have now come to know that the tape had not been delivered to the Speaker’s office till 1.00 pm today. This raises great apprehensions in everyone’s mind about the possibility of doctoring of the tape.
The BJP demands that the Speaker immediately convene a meeting of the leaders of all parties, show the tape to them, and institute a time-bound inquiry. The outcome of this inquiry must be made known before Parliament convenes for the Monsoon Session in August.
The BJP has decided to launch a nationwide campaign to make the people aware of the illegitimacy of the UPA government and its unsuitability to continue in office after exposure of the cash-for-votes scandal. The campaign, which will begin from Sunday (27 July), will also highlight the UPA government’s saga of failures and betrayals -- above all, its failure to control skyrocketing prices of essential commodities, to ameliorate the plight of farmers, and to effectively fight the menace of terrorism.
CNN-IBN responds that the tapes were delivered to the Speaker's office at 5.30 in the evening of July 23. Why this delay in the simple matter of handing over the tapes to the Speaker's office? The channel-head maintains, "We were waiting for the Constitutional authority to approach us so that the tapes could be handed over to them. We finally handed over the tapes to the Speaker's office at 5:30 pm."
In an earlier statement, CNN-IBN had said: "While trying to investigate deeper into this trail, we realized that the issue needed further probing and we could not at this stage telecast it without further verification. We are also aware that as the matter involves 'honorable members of Parliament' and involves a question of parliamentary privileges, the media needs to be extra cautious before airing or telecasting any such news."
As per the version by the BJP MPs, the alleged bribe was reported to have been offered by Samajwadi Party general secretary Amar Singh in collusion with Congress President Sonia Gandhi's political secretary, Ahmed Patel. Both these gentlemen have denied the allegations.
The statement issued by CNN-IBN7 had gone on to say, "We are also aware that as the matter involves honourable members of Parliament and involves a question of parliamentary privileges, the media needs to be extra cautious before airing or telecasting any such news".
Meanwhile, a media-watch website, the Hoot has offered Two theories under their media-watch briefs section:
Why did CNN IBN not telecast the footage of the cash for vote sting, which it is supposed to have possession of? Two theories are doing the rounds. One, that there was no conclusive evidence in it and the material was not good enough to use, and two, that Anil Ambani whose Reliance Capital has a financial stake in Network 18 leaned on owner Raghav Bahl not to use the footage meant to discredit Amar Singh.
The same website also carries a few pointed questions by media commentator S.R. Ramanujan:
* Is it the job of a TV channel to provide proof to any Constitutional authority, in this case the Speaker, before it could telecast the news to its viewers?
* Does this not give handle to critics to allege that the channel was silenced? In fact, in a panel discussion in another channel, this was hinted.
* It is possible that the channel might have felt that it was taken for a ride by unscrupulous politicians and thus the whole episode was quite fishy. So, it was not fair to telecast the tape since the channel itself was not convinced about the authenticity of the whole operation. In such a case there was no need for the channel to hand over the tape to the Speaker.