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Women journos slam Telugu TV channels’ moral policing

Telugu Media moral policing

Sexual harassment and public defamation of women law students by news channels in Hyderabad comes under strong protest from women journalists across India

By Team FI

Network of Women in Media, India, (NWMI) has strongly condemned the misogynist portrayal, by certain television channels, of the female law students who attended a party in Hyderabad on 12th April. In a press release issued this week, NWMI protested against the incident which they described as sexual harassment of women in a public place, and criminal intimidation of the women with threat of public defamation through media.

On 12 April 2013, a group of students from Nalsar Law University attended a farewell party for their graduating seniors at a night Club located in Banjara Hills, Hyderabad. When they stepped out of the club around 10.30 pm, one of the women students spotted someone taking their pictures with a mobile phone. She objected and demanded to see the mobile. The mobile turned out to be a dummy, without a card in it. When she further objected and demanded that the phone with which photos were taken be handed over, other media cameramen who were present began to film the altercation. Despite repeated protests, the media cameramen continued filming the women.

The next morning several Telugu channels – TV9, ABN Andhra Jyoti, Sakshi TV, Studio N, NTV, IdlyTV, and News 24 – showed the footage. Significantly, while only a couple of channels were present outside the club and were involved in the incident, the story was generously shared with many other channels. Links to this footage were also put up by several websites. The victims of this coverage were not given the opportunity to respond or give their side of the story.

The anchors of the TV channels repeatedly referred to the women as punch drunk, half naked, and nude, when the women students were dressed in strapless evening wear. One of the anchors referred to their attire as “creepily offensive short clothes.” Though none of the media persons were present in the club, the anchors claimed that they women were dancing in the club. To make matters worse one news channel put together several clips of provocative dancing from various sources, implying that the present incident was somehow connected to those.

The channels turned into ‘moral police’ when they claimed that the students were “leaving Indian traditions in tatters by their dressing and behavior”. The reporters and anchors held forth on excessive freedom for women and its “devastating” effects on society. This despite the fact that the channels’ staple fare for advertising revenue on their news bulletins comprises song and dance sequences from films and film events which regularly feature skimpily clad women dancing provocatively to songs with double meaning lyrics.

The channels also falsely claimed that the students’ behavior was condemned by women’s organizations even though they only showed the statements of two little-known local politicians, thereby misleading public opinion.

According to the NWMI, the TV channels, by photographing/filming people without their permission in a public place have grossly interfered in the privacy of these individuals. This appears to be in violation of items 4, 6, 1, and 2 of the News Broadcasters’ Association’s Code of Ethics for programming and also appears to be in violation of the programming code prescribed under the Cable Networks Regulation Act.

Women journalists representing NWMI have demanded that the channels involved in this misdemeanor should be fined and made to apologize to the victims, and the said apology should be telecast on the channels involved.
detailed report of the incident is already on the media watch website,The Hoot

The online petition drafted by the victims