Ayodhya Case: How News Channels Became SC & Anchors Turned Judges

Editor: Md Irshal Alal | Camera: Shiv Kumar Maurya

If Jadoo, the alien from the Bollywood film ‘Koi Mil Gaya’ were to visit India today – not ‘India Today’ – but India today, it could be forgiven for thinking that the Ayodhya title dispute case was fought not before five judges of the Supreme Court but five anchors across our TV news channels.

But the good thing about news anchors being the judges is that we don’t have to wait for an entire month to hear the judgment.

Why, you might ask?

Well because, as Aaj Tak proudly declared a day before the hearings concluded, “Birthplace ours, Ram ours. Where have these mosque people emerged from?”

On 16 October, after the Ayodhya title dispute hearings ended, the News Broadcasting Standards Authority (NBSA) came up with guidelines like:

  • News channels should not speculate on the verdict
  • Should not show bias
  • Should not influence viewers
  • Should not express extreme views
  • Should not engage in inflammatory debates.

But the real question is – ‘Agenda humara, hashtag humare, ye unbiased reporting ke pujari kaha se padhare? (The agenda is ours, the hashtags are ours, where have these worshippers of unbiased reporting emerged from?)

After all, why should one wait for the 5-judge SC bench to pronounce its verdict by 17 November when one already knows what the verdict is?

When channels say we are “sab se tez” (the fastest) they mean it.

News 18’s Amish Devgan would surely agree. But a minor typo in his prime time headline from 16 October needs to be corrected.

It read, “Buss Kuch din intezaar phir Shubh Samachar?” (A few days of waiting followed by good news?)

He, perhaps, intended to end the sentence with an “!” but inserted a “?” by mistake.

But Rubika Liyaquat of ABP News made no such errors when she hosted a 9pm prime time show hours after the hearings ended, where she walked us through, in great detail, a model of the Ram temple that was going to be built on the site.

And when she was not giving us a ‘masterclass’ on the masterplan, she also managed to do this: “Ram Mandir pe bahas ke dauran Live Show pe tilmilaaye maulana. Dekhiye”. (Maulana gets agitated during debate on Ram Mandir. Watch)

A snapshot from ABP News’ Rubika Liyaquat’s prime time debate.

Also Read: Ayodhya Settlement Offer Confirmed, But Who is Backing It?

Now, take a look at some of the other stalwarts and maybe learn a thing or two.

‘Noob’ journalists would come up with hashtags like #CountdownToVerdict. But stalwarts at Times Now use hashtags like #RamMandirCountdown.

But real stalwarts don’t just blurt out verdicts but also carefully construct a narrative as well.

And the NBSA guidelines don’t say anything about building a narrative: So, Republic’s prime time debate came up with insightful hashtags like #SunniSideBacksMandir and #MediationWorked

But if you thought Arnab would stop there, you clearly need to get off ‘libtard’ news channels. He also launched a stinging attack on Rajiv Dhavan, the lawyer for the Sunni Waqf Board and “exposed” him.

This had to be the best expose since Himesh Reshammiya’s film, ‘The Xpose’

In conclusion, the boring fact brigade will tell you this is not a ‘Hindu vs Muslim’ case or a ‘mandir vs masjid’ debate but rather a title dispute about who owns the piece of land. But as Times Now’s Rahul Shivshankar says, it’s “time to separate facts from rhetoric”.

The tagline of Rahul Shivshankar’s primetime show says “Time to separate Facts from Rhetoric”

Exactly, one should never let facts come in the way of rhetoric.

Also Read: No Leave for UP Field Officials Till Nov-End Over Ayodhya Verdict

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