Chyetanya Kunte is an Indian blogger living in the Netherlands. On 27th of November, 2008 during the terror attacks in Mumbai he wrote a blog post (now available through Google cache) criticizing Indian private television channel New Delhi Television (NDTV) and particularly their group editor Barkha Dutt's coverage of the incident.
The post was deleted from Chyetanya's blog, and on 26th of January, 2009 he posted this apology confirming unconditional withdrawal of the post. This has sparked anger and strong condemnations in the Indian blogosphere.
Gaurav Sabnis at Vantage point predicts:
It does not take a PhD in reading between the lines to guess what happened. NDTV probably sent Kunte a legal notice, asking him to pull the post down, apologize, never write about them again, and pay an absurdly massive amount of money.
Retributions confirms quoting Barkha Dutts's Facebook message that Chyetanya Kunte was indeed served with a legal notice on 3rd of January. She apparently wrote:
Just because some random bloke can sit at a computer and make up stuff doesn't mean he or others like him need to be dignified with responding to their utter and total rubbish. rubbish is what it is. And as already mentioned. Mr. Kunte has been served a legal notice for libel by NDTV. That should give you some indication of where we and I stand. The freedom afforded by the Internet cannot be used to fling allegations at individuals or groups in the hope that they will then respond to things that aren't worthy of engagement.
Gaurav Mishra at Gauravonomics Blog compiles a roundup of condemnations by Indian bloggers for silencing Chyetanya. He also reveals:
Chyetanya sent me an email on January 25th, requesting me to take down the link to his post in my roundup of reactions to media coverage of the 11/26 Mumbai terror attack. I haven’t taken down the link and excerpt yet, but I have refrained from blogging about the issue so far out of concern for complicating Chyetanya’s and, perhaps, my own legal situation.
The fact is that Chyetanya wasn't the only one criticizing NDTV. According to Gaurav:
Bloggers were scathing in their criticism of Barkha Dutt’s sensationalistic coverage of the 11/26 Mumbai terror attack, accusing her of broadcasting sensitive information about the position of hostages and security troops, sensationalizing the news coverage, and being borderline hysterical, in general.
Nanopolitan tells NDTV in the post “congratulations NDTV“:
The apology you extracted reminds us of re-education programs that totalitarian regimes impose on dissidents. Or of re-induction rituals in third rate gangster movies.
Gargi at POV writes:
Amongst the institutions that has rapidly lost my trust, especially in the last two years, is the broadcast news media. Between the Prince episode, the Arushi Murder Case, running recorded footage with live bugs, with the 26/11 coverage – i have stopped watching TV news. I read magazines, i read newspapers and I read blogs. I do these because i have far more faith in the credibility of those who write – than the credibility of those who produce and package news on TV.
Updates of the Indian bloggers’ reactions can be found at Desipundit. Blogbharti posts an appeal:
We urge all bloggers to send us their views on this issue. And to protest NDTV’s highhanded efforts to curb our freedom of speech.
Stop War Hysteria
Barkha has apologised in her recent posy about how she reported the event. Time to apologise to bloggers too..
“Though few could be spared, the truth of the matter is that most of the Indian media persons are sick. In fever. Contaminated by huge salary packages. Infected with the extravagant lifestyle which is not sustainable by the ordinary poor. The infecundity of the infected organism is going to plague the whole sub-continent, if at all war erupts.”
The fact that the live TV reporting on 26/11 and27/11 helped terrorists holed up inside through information fed by their friends outside who were watching the transmissions has been recorded by the security agencies themselves. It was in this context that the Government later tried to bring a new Cable TV regulation which was dropped after severe opposition from the media.
In this instance, the mistake done by Barkha was also done by many other journalists. An apology for the same is in order.
But, what is required now is an apology from Barkha for having used her clout to curb the innocuous expressions of a blogger. This has not yet comeforth.
Just as the media opposed the Government Bill on Cable TV strongly,bloggers in the interest of their future relevance need to oppose this oppressive tendency of NDTV and take steps that it would not be repeated by NDTV or some body else in future.
Difference between MSN/Sriram sena on one hand and NDTV and Burkha dutt has blurred with silencing of Chetan.
The reputation of NDTV has soared – remember prannoy roy’s interview of pervez just after Kargill? Now this columbia educated gift to our journalism world.
Where we ignorant pile of rubbish be without your enlightening “we the people” and bold well researched reports of “certain mass murderer” from certain state. Taliban in Mangalore is equivalent to Taliban in Media. Just like Maheshwari case, just like IIP< vs Garav case.
Read the original post (http://bangalorebuzzz.blogspot.com/2009/01/blogger-silenced-by-ndtv.html).
There was absolutely nothing wrong in what was said. What was NDTV thinking when they created this ruckus?