The thing with boycotts is that not everyone is on the same page. While the decision to blacklist some news anchors and television channels was discussed threadbare at the INDIA bloc’s Mumbai meeting, with leaders from the Congress and TMC strongly in favour, there were a few differences on several points.
But one thing that most seem to be agreeing on is “let’s not call it a boycott”. “It’s just that we feel some have to be not engaged with for a while because we want to send the message that what they say in terms of Hindus versus Muslims cannot be accepted,” said a leader.
But in an election season when communication is key, some leaders from the opposition front are a bit wary. Firstly, they don’t want it to be seen as a “boycott” as that would sound alarmist. Hence, sources say, it has been made clear that nowhere should the word “boycott” be used. It has also been mentioned that no party representatives will be sent to some TV shows.
Secondly, an area of concern is that many of these anchors are popular in some poll-bound states. They also head influential and popular regional channels. “In poll-bound states, these shows may matter. We are missing a platform. We don’t need moral policing. We can go there and make our point and be loud about it,” said a Congress leader from a state that will have elections soon.
There is also a feeling that this “boycott” is likely to hurt the Hindi-belt parties like Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD), Samajwadi Party (SP), and Janata Dal (United) more. “Most of those who have been shunned are from Hindi news channels, and their platforms, no matter how biased, could have been used to hit back. We can always go on social media with our version and make it viral as more than TV, it’s the digital space that has traction,” said an SP spokesperson.
The other discussion is on whether advertisements from state governments to these news anchors and channels should also be stopped. As per sources, some leaders feel that this is not feasible and will end up hurting them also. Some parties depend on giving these ads as a quid pro quo for coverage. Said a member of a party’s media committee, “Things have not reached that stage that we will stop sponsorships.”
Consensus, till now, is elusive. But given the difference of opinion over this “boycott”, a source told News18 that this move is temporary. “It can and will be revoked soon,” said the leader.
And this is what gives hope to many who are not too happy about the decision.