Bijepur Bypoll: BJD Moves CEO Against OTV’s ‘Paid News’ Favouring BJP Candidate

Bhubaneswar: The BJD on Monday lodged a complaint with the Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) against the Odisha Television Ltd (OTV) for airing paid news in favour of the BJP candidate for the ensuing byelection to Bijepur Assembly constituency.

The OTV in a clarification termed BJD’s allegations as false and baseless.

A BJD delegation led by senior party leader and minister Surjya Narayan Patra met the CEO Surendra Kumar at his office and submitted him a memorandum in this regard requesting his early intervention and appropriate action against the news channel to ensure a level playing ground for all other candidates in this byelection. However, OTV has dismissed the allegations as completely false and baseless.

Briefing newsmen, Patro said the Kendrapara MP and vice-chairman of IMFA Baijayant Panda is the chairman of Ortel Communication, which is the promoter of Odisha Television Ltd that runs the OTV news.

“Panda, after his suspension from the BJD for anti-party activities on allegation of filing false affidavit, he and his wife Jagi Mangat Panda, director of Odisha Television Ltd and Managing Director of Ortel Communication, are carrying out a baseless and motivated vilification campaign against BJD and the state government with a vested interest to defame the government and the party before the public at large,” Patro alleged.

“In this backdrop, the news items, breaking news scrolls, panel discussions and debates, Janamancha programmes relating to Bijepur bypoll have been made in favour of the BJP candidate. This amounts to surrogate advertising which falls within the definition of paid news,” he pointed out.

Stating that the Election Commission of India has clearly set expenditure limits for every contesting candidate, he said this kind of surrogate advertising through paid norms is disadvantageous to the other contesting candidates.

“Considering the above factors, we request the state level media monitoring cell to closely examine the news and other programmes aired in OTV relating to Bijepur bypoll after the poll notification came into force and book the entire cost of expenditure of such news and programmes to the BJP candidate Ashok Panigrahi,” Patro demanded.

He further maintained that the people of Odisha are aware of the evil designs of the OTV which is against the ethics of journalism as it is promoting the personal interest of Baijayant Panda and Jagi Mangat Panda.

The OTV issued a clarification, terming BJD’s allegations as ‘false’ and ‘baseless’.

“We would like to state that OTV’s credibility as the number one regional channel in Odisha for the last two decades has stemmed from its relentless presentation of news in the most fair and unbiased way. Following its charter in letter and spirit, OTV has stuck to being impartial in all its news presentations since the declaration of date of Bijepur byelection till filing of nomination papers and campaigning by all parties till date. Irrespective of any bias towards any party, OTV offers the minutest on-ground details by reaching people at large from the grassroots to the leaders. So, be it news schedules, panel discussions or news scrolls, OTV has never been partisan, rather the merit of news forms its only yardstick of telecasting. OTV does not believe in the concept of ‘paid news’. Amid the fight of political parties to prove one-upmanship dragging OTV is condemnable. These allegations are just a means to defame the channel and an attempt in futility,” the clarification said.

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