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Writer: Vinod Behl - Monday, Mar 28,2005 7:19 AM

Rajat Sharma defends his action following I & B Ministry’s notice

Buoyed by the recent TAM ratings, India TV Chairman Rajat Sharma defends the telecast of his sting operations in response to a recent notice issued by the I & B Ministry.

Taking cognizance of the sting operation that showed few Bihar Politician in sex act with call girls, the ministry exercising its powers under Cable Television Networks Regulation Act and Programme Code slammed a notice on Sharma. The Ministry’s action comes in the wake of a court case filed by one of the politicians featured in the sting operation. The ministry is of the opinion that the sting operation offended good taste and decency and was not suited for unrestricted public exhibition as it was likely to corrupt public morality.

Speaking to exchange4media Sharma said that he had learnt about the showcase notice from the media reports and had not received any missive from the ministry so far. “On March 13, a day after the telecast of Shakti Kapoor sting operation, we did receive a letter from the I & Ministry saying that it was brought to their notice that the Shakti Kapoor telecast was indecent. We replied back saying that there was nothing obscene in it. We sent our telecast tape to justify our stand.”

Sharma also defends himself over the sting operations involving politicians. “We did not show anything vulgar or which would hurt the public sentiments. The telecast was done purely in public interest and every precaution was taken to check any vulgarity. There was not audio and we did not even show any parts of the body. If we receive any notice from the I & B Ministry over this, we will sent a suitable reply,” he says.

Sharma denies the charge that his sting operations related to breach of privacy. He instead maintains that his expose are for larger public interest. “That is clearly evident from the facts that in the past we did expose on recycling of hospital waste, synthetic milk, illegal blood transfusion on Patna streets etc. And for all our sting operations including the recent ones on Bollywood Stars, politicians and sadhus, we have got tremendous public support which is clearly reflected in the recent TAM ratings,” says Sharma.

TAM ratings for the week (March 13 – 19, 2005) in the 15+ market show that following the Bollywood’s much hyped casting couch expose telecast on March 13, India TV has emerged as the leader with a channel share of 22.4 percent against 20.2 percent of Aaj Tak, 18 percent of NDTV India, 14 percent of Star News, 13.4 percent of Zee News, 6.2 percent of Shara Samay and 5.9 percent of DD News, with a gain of about 200 percent over the previous week. In the million + market, India TVs channel share rose to 13 percent within hitting range of Zee News (16 percent), Star News (18 percent), NTDV (18 percent) and Aaj Tak (22 percent).

Sharma does not agree to the criticism that the recent sex sting operations were done to boost TRP. “It is a propaganda against us. Our other programmes have been getting good TRPs. A day before the telecast of Shakti Kapoor expose, India TV recorded much higher channel share than its rival channels for its prime time (2100 – 2150 hours) show – Aap Ki Adalat.

Meanwhile, it is time for the expose of a different kind as India TV gets ready to present the first person interview with their undercover reporter Ruchi who carried out Shakti Kapoor sting operation. But then Rajat Sharma would like to take a break from sex scandals. “Our relentless efforts to expose wrong doings in society will however continue. I would now concentrate on other areas like health and education,” says Sharma.

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