Mangalam channel honey trap: Backlash complete as CEO faces probe, journalist mutiny

Greeshma M
Mangalam TV

In a dramatic turn of events, the newly-launched Malayalam television channel, Mangalam has accepted it erred by airing what has become known as the "AK Saseendran Sex tape." This, after it emerged that it was nothing but a honey trap and the woman involved was in fact a journalist working with the television channel.

It features a clip aired last Sunday, March 26, by the television channel in which A K Saseendran, then transport minister and member of the Left Democratic Front Party (LDF) is heard flirting with an unnamed woman.

Following a protracted public scrutiny, including by members of the media, that coincided with the announcement by the Pinarayi Vijayan-led government that it will conduct a judicial inquiry to get to the bottom of the matter, it is understood that a number of journalists in Mangalam have decided to quit.

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Citing what they say is a negative form of journalism, others have spoken out against the way the television channel is being run, the perceived disconnect with the reality and push for TRPs at the expense of the long-cherished journalistic values. With A AjithKumar, the CEO of the channel now owning responsibility and tendering an unconditional apology days after the government announced a judicial probe, it remains to be seen what angle the row will take.

The revelations of the alleged misdemeanour coming days before the Malappuram by-polls in the state had led to the resignation of the minister. After the resignation of AK Saseendran as transport minister, the damage caused by airing of the tapes on his person, party and the people he represents has become the focus. Will an apology remedy the situation? Who will take the responsibility for the damage 'peeping Tom' journalism has caused on the credibility of the scribes of the state? Will a mere apology, putting the onus on a woman who accepted to lead the team 'voluntarily' be enough?

AK Saseendran

So far, the cyber security cell in the state has received at least three complaints regarding the same. At the time of publishing this story, we also heard that the nine journalists, including the CEO Ajith Kumar of Mangalam will face the backlash and the police have registered a case against the nine persons.

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The channel had earlier claimed that a woman who approached the minister with a compliant handed over the audio clip to him. However, many had raised doubts over this claim almost immediately after the channel broke the news. The channel, instead of accepting its blunder, continued to defend its stand stating that it was only trying to protect the dignity of women in the state.

Mangalam, in its statement, had claimed that the channel had constituted a team of eight for the said operation and at the beginning itself had taken a decision not to reveal the people behind the 'sting op.'

This may not be the first or last time a media house has made a mistake and come out to accept its shortcoming. The backlash Mangalam has received for airing the contents is unprecedented. 

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For us in the profession, the mistake is another reminder of how we should follow the founding principles of journalism and a wake-up call to media owners that the media has 'a noble mission of reporting', and manufacturing news has no place!

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