Zee News: We are Pro-BJP, We are Pro-Hindutva

Zee News: We are Pro-BJP, We are Pro-Hindutva

cobrapost |
May 25, 2018

While agreeing to run the malicious agenda, the officials of India's Rashtravadi Channel would route all the unaccounted cash through a third party agency

Santosh, Sales and Marketing and Gauri Mahapatra, Head Sales and Marketing, Zee Kalinga; Sanjoy Chatterjee, Business Head, Zee Regional East; Purushottam Vaishnav, CEO Regional News Channels; Sagar Arora, Senior Sales Manager, Zee Punjab, Himachal and Haryana; Amit Kumar, Assistant Manager, Zee Purvaiya, and Pradeep Kumar Sinha, Territory Head Sales; Abhishek Pandey, Senior Sales Manager, Uttarakhand Zee News

Launched in July 1999, Zee News will have completed a two-decade-long run this year. Zee News is the flagship of Zee Media Corporation Limited (ZMCL), which includes three national channels Zee NewsZee Hindustan and Zee Business and one international channel WION. The network also runs regional news channels such as Zee 24 Taas (Marathi), Zee 24 Kalak (Gujarati), Zee 24 Ghanta (Bengali), Zee Madhya Pradesh/Chhattisgarh, Zee Uttar Pradesh/Uttarakhand, Zee RajasthanZee Punjab/Haryana/HimachalZee Kalinga News (Odia) and Zee Bihar/Jharkhand and Zee Salaam (Urdu). The network has 190 million viewers.

Apart from these news channels, the Zee group owns 9X Media, a bouquet of six music TV channels and Bollywood news portal www.spotboye.com, and Daily News and Analysis (DNA), a Mumbai-based English newspaper. Known for its avowedly pro-Hindutva tilt, Zee Media takes pride in calling themselves to be India’s only rasthravadi (nationalist) channel. It is no surprise then that Zee News, in its various avatars, has been one of the most controversial news channels. For instance, its CEO and Editor-in-Chief Sudhir Chaudhary and his colleague Sameer Ahluwalia were arrested by the Delhi Police in November 2012 on charges of extorting Rs 100 crore from the Jindal Group as a quid pro quo for not airing stories against the group in the Coal Scam. In his zeal to attract as many eyeballs as possible when he was CEO and editor of Live India, a current affairs TV channel owned and promoted by Markand Adhikari, Chaudhary aired a slanderous but fake sting in September 2007 on a woman government school teacher of Delhi, purportedly showing her as promoting prostitution. The woman teacher was almost lynched by a furious mob after this scurrilous fake video was aired by the TV channel. After it came to be known that the teacher was innocent, his colleague Prakash Singh, who had done the sting, was arrested by the Delhi Police. The channel was blacked out for three months.

Over the years, Zee News has become a champion of nationalism and Hindutva, particularly after the BJP came to power at the Centre and Zee Group Chairman Subhash Chandra won a place in the Rajya Sabha, with BJP support. In February 2016, the Jawahar Lal Nehru University in Delhi became the target of all sorts of onslaughts and slander campaign by the ruling party and its government after Zee News aired another doctored video purportedly showing some JNU students shouting anti-India slogans. The Delhi Police, who moved with speed to arrest some of the JNU Students Union leaders on sedition charges, has so far failed to prove the video was genuine, let alone identify and arrest those students who had shouted anti-India slogans.

After Cobrapost released the first part of Operation 136 on March 26, the Zee News and Zee Hindustan aired a programme sensationally titled “Cobrapost Ka Kala Sach (The Black Truth of Cobrapost).” Obviously, the sole objective of the programme, which was high on decibels but low on content, was to run down Cobrapost.

In Operation 136 – Part 1, we had exposed both DNA and 9X Tashan senior officials showing their willingness to peddle Hindutva, run character assassination campaign against certain political leaders and also run favourable stories for money. It will not be out of place to recall what Rajiv Sharma, Sr. Vice President (Advertising Sales), of 9X Tashan had promised their client, that is, senior journalist Pushp Sharma: create a buzz on Hindutva by creating theme song according to the agenda of their client. Here is what we heard him say: “Aap jo ye points bol rahe hain ismein hum aisa bhi kar sakte hain ki jaisa abhi humne brand songs hum create karte hain toh hum ye jo aapke items hain inke through bhi hum kuchh kar sakte hain. Maan lijiye song create kiya humne aur wo humari property bhi hogi toh hum usko throughout the day promote karenge wo chalega ek bade level pe toh wo ek buzz create kar dega (The points you are telling, we can also do it this way … for example, we create brand songs, we can do the same through your items … suppose we create a song, that song will be our property … we will promote that song throughout the day … this will run on a big level so that it creates a buzz [among the viewers]).”

This is what Rajat Kumar, Chief Revenue Officer, Zee Synergy, who is in charge of DNA, had committed with regard to the malicious media campaign that their client had proposed for DNA to undertake: “Bilkul main ismein bahut yuddh gati se kaam karta hoon (Sure, I will work on it on a war footing).”

Pushp Sharma met eight marketing officials who work for various regional channels of the Zee group to see if his proposition is received warmly by them or not. Surprisingly all of them agreed to do more than what Sharma asked for. Santosh, for instance, who is part of the sales and marketing team of Zee Kalinga, which was launched in 2014, in Bhubaneswar, promptly agreed to suture a corporate alliance with Zee News for his agenda: “Nahi, nahi khali Zee Kalinga ka baat khatm kar lete hain aur top level mein jo bhi ho sakta hai main yahin se karva doonga … koi problem nahi hai sab mein karwa doonga (No, let us finish with Zee Kalinga first … and whatever can be done at the top level for you, I will get it done from here [Bhubaneswar] itself … there is no problem … I will get everything done).”

You mean you can take care of Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh even from Bhubaneswar? Promptly, replies Santosh: “Haan, haan link hain sab na koi problem nahi hai direct baat aap bhi kar sakte hain koi problem nahi hai khali Zee Kalinga ko lekar jo programme hai aapka uska detail mereko de deejiye aur Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh bol rahe hain Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh ke liye main karwa doonga (Yes, yes. I have links with all. There is no problem. You can also talk directly with them. There is no problem. You can send me details of your program for Zee Kalinga … and you are talking of Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh, I can get things done for those states also).”

Santosh was prompt to bring his superior Gauri Mahapatra on board, who the journalist met at a Bhubaneswar coffee shop. His junior has already apprised the Zee Kalinga sales and marketing head of the agenda. So, when quoting an ad spend of about Rs. 10 crore the journalist tells Mahapatra he would like to “invest” in his media campaign in three states, including Odisha, Mahapatra gives a clear indication of what is expected of them: “It doesn’t look like this is a paid for, so it will be [of] a more help.”

Yes, this is exactly what we are looking for, the journalist appreciates her understanding, and since your owner is himself associated with the party, it should not look like that your channel is unduly favouring us. Mahapatra agrees to do the balancing act in these words: “Yes, exactly… it should look like we are with all … we can always do that.”

You see, our Ashram receives a lot of cash in donations, the journalist tells Mahapatra. He then asks if they can accept payment in cash. Cash is welcome, as Mahapatra says: “Yes, yes, [a] bigger agency is there. They can always do that.”

Now, tell me how your channel can help us form governments in these three states? Here is what Mahapatra offers us: “We have days out total FPC, we call it FPC fixed point chart, like we have to plan for whole week that is our FPC. So what we have planned is we are going to remote [areas]. What is the agenda of the chairman?  So it will be like totally going to each and every panchayat, each and every block, to the local corner of Odisha. We won’t be leaving any place.  So that way we can add on like aapka kahin par kuch ho raha hai (if you have organized a programme) ... like our 30 senior [staff members] will be there in all places, and 30 will be multiplied, can go to 100, 200 people, so they will be in one network. So if it goes well, if it is okay with chairman … we will be working like a partnership programme.”

The deal with Zee Kalinga thus settled, the journalist asked Mahapatra if she could get him across to someone who could help him strike the same deal for Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan where assembly elections are due this year. Mahapatra was happy to introduce Acharya Atal, that is, Pushp Sharma, to Sanjoy Chatterjee, who is working with the group as Business Head Zee Regional East. But before this meeting took place, Chatterjee had already spoken to the editorial team head and CEO of some regional channels of the group Purushottam Vaishnav.

So, when the journalist asks Chatterjee how he can help promote the agenda during elections in Rajasthan as well, it does not take much prodding for Chatterjee to make the promise: “Humare taraf se aapke iss karyakram ke liye (For your agenda, on our part), we will do anything and everything that is required to make your plan successful, that’s our commitment, okay. It has to be spread across length and breadth of the day and the evening and in the night and the afternoon because the audience is everywhere. You know to capture all kinds of audiences you have to instill [in] them the confidence about the Hindutva thing. Some speak out like you do, some don’t like I do. I am also [a] Brahmin, I am Chatterjee. So we also know that whatever our country is going through, and I am not giving you any sales talk ... okay, because sales has already been done. Let’s assume that. So, it’s good thing and before coming here we sat down with Purushottamji. He has assured that [quoting him] ‘You go and tell him every single help from the channel to make your plan successful.’ That is the one liner that we are telling you.”

Nothing can be better than what you tell me, the journalist appreciates Chatterjee. But we can pay you all in cash, Sharma tells him, which can be diverted from Australia to your account, which in other words is using channel not legal. “Everything in cash?” inquires Chatterjee. You heard it right! And last time around I was told that you people will involve some other agency for this purpose, their client the journalist says. Yes, there is a man who will help you, Chatterjee says: “Theek hai jahan tak finance kee baat hai (Okay, as far as the finance part of the deal is concerned), what we can do is we can include, you know, a person see after [sic] from our Noida office … Okay, my and her job basically is understanding your requirement, communicating, interrelate and service that requirement, okay, and the price should be [Rs.] 10 cr net. You know how the nuances of that shall be handled by a person Mukesh Jindal.”

Who this gentleman is who will help us? The journalist asks.

Chatterjee tells who this man is and what expertise he possesses: “He is based in our Noida office. He handles the finances for any such things that’s we do. He knows how we can manage this keeping your objective in mind, keeping our objective in mind.”

Nothing like it! Assured that Zee’s regional channels will play his agenda, their client the journalist now seeks to know how they will adjust the cash payment and in what ratio. Purushottam Vaishnav reassures their client: “Wo toh humari team hai wo kar dega jaisa bhi hoga humari baat ho jayegi (He is part of our team. He will do it. We will discuss it with him).” Chatterjee chips in to tell us the ratio: “Fifty percent cash aur fifty percent … (Fifty percent cash and fifty percent …).”

I am unable to understand, the journalist tells Chatterjee. “Firstly, we will look at 25 crores if you [are] looking [at] four states, 50% of the money will be in cash and 50% will be in cheque. Cheque part needs to come in totality,” explains Chatterjee.

You mean we can pay Rs. 12.5 in cash?

Yes, says Chatterjee and tells the journalist that they will have to sign a contract: “Yes, we will start signing the contract, okay. We will be giving you how questions should be designed.” Turning to Purushottam, the journalist asks if the price quoted can be negotiated. “Ye cheejein ye jaanein main patrakar aadmi hoon main isase zyada nahi jaanata (These things only he [Chatterjee] should know. I am a journalist. I don’t know much about it),” says Purushottam. Thus, claiming to be a journalist, he smartly skirts the issue.

But it would be an uphill task for us to manage Rs. 12.5 crore by cheque. So, better clear the issue of payment in cash, the journalist tells them. It is not a big issue, says Purushottam. It will be done as per your convenience. “Humari team hai jo payments ke part ko dekhati hai wo log baat karenge aapke saath aapke convenience pe ho jayega koi bada issue nahi hai … hum log uske bahut quoted unquoted commit nahi kar sakte wo aapki convenience pe ho jayega (Our [separate] team looks after the payment part. They will speak to you and it will be done keeping in mind your convenience. This is not a big issue at all … We cannot commit anything quoted unquoted. [But] That will be done according to your convenience).”

Do we need any proof that the Zee group has a well-placed mechanism to soak in as much money as their clients may be willing to pay them in cash? It is established beyond doubt when a senior journalist who serves as CEO of Zee’s regional channels commits in no uncertain terms to adjust cash as per his client’s “convenience.” Quoting a price of Rs. 25 crore for two hours across the day to run the campaign in four states of Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan and Odisha, Chatterjee explains how the entire deal will be split: “25 cr is the deal, okay, net ... yes [excluding GST], dekhiye cash ke oopar sawal nahi hai. 12.5 jo ja rahi hai wo client ko dena hai iske oopar (You see, there is no question [of GST] on the cash part. The client has to pay [GST] on the rest of the Rs. 12.5 crore [to be paid by cheque]). We will give you the deal. Ye jo humari jo deal banegi wo 12.5 crore kee deal banegi usmein entitlement diya jayega aapko (We will prepare a deal on Rs. 12.5 crore, in which you will be given an entitlement) and accordingly payment has to be made as full advance. Full advance means 12.5 [crore] which is 50 % is to be [paid] fully advance. That money will come from which account? Australian account?”

No, the money will not be transferred from my account in Australia, the journalist tells Chatterjee. You give me your Australian account and the job will be done by somebody else. “Accha (Oh), when you are transferring from Australia,” Chatterjee is curious to know. Tell me if Zee has any venture there, the journalist asks. Interjects his colleague Purushottam to inform: “Worldwide hai ji Zee ka toh (Zee has a worldwide venture).” Sure, this will be of help. Says Chatterjee: “Agar wo Australia se nahi hui if in the country then obviously Zee Unimedia ke naam se cheque banega (If it is not being made from Australia … if in the country, then obviously the cheque will have to be issued in the name of Zee Unimedia).”

So, have you written it on the deal? The client the journalist asks.

Proffers Purushottam: “Zee International ke naam se deal ho jayegi usmein kya hai (The deal will be made in the name of Zee International. There is nothing in it).” The deal can be made and payments transferred in the name of either Zee Unimedia or Zee International, we come to know.

Telling them he is fine with the price quoted by them and GST that will have to paid above what is to be paid by cheque, the journalist tells them that there will be a periodical review on how Zee is moving on the deal. We hear Chatterjee say in a reassuring manner: “Wo toh maine kal jab aapko bataya tha na ki Purushottamji ka one liner view tha mere ko ki aapko jo jo help chahiye (I had told you yesterday that Purushottamji had given his one-liner view that whatever help you need) from the editorial beat we have kept in mind. We will do everything.”

Purushottam goes one step further while promising us his team will even run investigative stories to serve our agenda: “Content meinjo aapki taraf se input aayega wo absorb ho jayega … humare taraf se jo content generate hoga investigative journalism hum log karte hain karwa denge jitna hum logon ne kya hai utna kisi ne nahi kiya hoga wo hum log karenge (Whatever input you will send in the form of content that will be absorbed … the content we will generate … we have been doing investigative journalism, we will do it for you. None of the channels has done so many … we will do that).”

Both Chatterjee and Purushottam, it is apparent, have understood the agenda very well and have also cut their tasks out.

But then this AFP will serve only sermons of our Guruji. How will you provide content beyond that or how will you carry investigative stories? Asks the journalist. Purushottam reveals how they will use this mechanism: “Ye saare AFP ke part hee part rahenge … usko screen par kis taur par lekar aana hai wo script mein dekhenge toh aapko lag jayega (All what you say will be part of AFP … how that has to be shown on screen … when you will see the script you will understand).”

But there will always be tagline announcing it to be a sponsored programme like an advertisement?

Reassures Purushottam: “Wo aap chhod dijiye (Leave it to us).” His colleague Chatterjee informs how the mechanism works: “Wo newspaper mein aata hai advertorial likha hua … lekin TV mein aisa nahi aata (That appears in newspapers denoting it as advertorial … but in TV such thing does not appear).”

Some months before elections approach, the journalist tells them, you will have to be aggressive on our agenda.

We hear Purushottam reassure him: “Wo toh jo plan aap chahein … election ke time mein toh waise bhi itni agni prajwalit ho chuki hoti hai ki wo oorja alag hoti hai (Whatever plan you want [us to work for] … anyway election always creates so much fire all around. It creates a different sort of energy).”

In order to confirm that his agenda has sunk in well with them and they are committed to carry it out, the journalist tells them again that there are four points of his agenda. During election time, for instance, they will have to target political rivals, throwing all rules to the wind. Purushottam replies with a crisp “Done.”

Pushp Sharma’s next port of call was the Chandigarh office of Zee’s regional channel which covers states like Punjab, Haryana and Himachal. Here he met Senior Sales Manager Sagar Arora. The journalist apprised him of his agenda: promotion of Hindutva to polarize the electorate, propagation of speeches of firebrand Hindutva leaders and character assassination of political rivals such as Pappu and Behanji using satire. Finding Arora receptive of the agenda, the journalist tells him that it is important for his party to find a toehold in Punjab and for this it is necessary to thrash the Akalis through our media campaign we will entrust your channel with. So what about running investigative stories on them?

Replies Arora promptly: “Sir wo toh nikaalte rehte hain abi inhone bahut lagaya bahut paisa kamaya hai aur election time mein agar humara channel closely watch kiya ho Punjab mein … humare channel ne Akaliyon kee jo band bajai hai aap soch nahi sakte (Sir, we often carry such stories … [the Akalis] they have earned a lot and invested a lot in [last] elections. If you have closely watched, [you must have noticed] our channel went hammer and tongs after the Akalis, beyond your guess).”

Oh, really!

Haan, that is there … inhone Akaliyon ko bilkul nahi chhoda … inke paanch chheh dino mein ekdum change kar diya aur kuchh vote convert bhi hui (Yes, that is there. They [our channel] did not spare the Akalis even a bit … they changed the scenario within four-five days and it helped convert some votes as well),” Arora tells us in a matter-of-fact manner. His confession obviously establishes beyond doubt how powerful media can be, and it can make or mar fortunes, political or individual.

Zee Media’s foray into Bhojpuri began in 2015 with the launch of Zee Purvaiya. Bhojpuri is spoken across Eastern Uttar, Bihar, the Nepal Terai and Jharkhand. The language has travelled to countries like GuyanaTrinidad and TobagoSurinameFijiMauritius and South Africa, with indentured Indian labour. Back home, it has a vibrant entertainment industry to boast of, cinema and music. There are about a dozen news and entertainment channels in Bhojpuri, and Zee Purvaiya is one of them, which broadcasts Bihar- and Jharkhand-specific current affairs programmes. Pushp Sharma visited its Patna office and met Assistant Manager Amit Kumar, who was not so forthcoming initially. Sharma asked him if they can run content against rival political parties, such as Congress, RJD, SP and BSP, on their channel on a regular basis, Amit Kumar tells him that they have to strike a balance. He philosophizes his channel’s pro-BJP tilt: “Lakh hum kahein ya duniya kahe ki hum Bhajapa se supported hain ya Bhajapa-minded hain jo kuch bhi ho but as a channel aapko apni vishwasniyata ko banaye rakhna hota hai theek hai mere man mein jo baat hai wo toh kahin na kahin se nikalegi aur log samajhate bhi hain iss cheej ko pro hona ye log samajhate hain but directly nahi bolte (Either we or the world at large may say that we are supported by the BJP or we are BJP-minded, whatever. But as a channel, you have to maintain your credibility, okay. What I think may find an outlet given an opportunity and people also understand this. These people understand what being pro means, but they don’t talk about it directly).” Suggesting that if we want to have an upper hand over our opponents during panel discussion, for instance, we should have strong issues and should have skills in oratory, he promises he would speak to the regional head of the channel in this regard: “Wahi wahi vaakpatuta chahiye wah. Toh ye cheej main Resident Director sahib se baat kar loonga … awashayakta padi toh main aapki baat bhi kara doonga. Wo uss level par humari poori koshish rahegi pairavi rahegi ki inhein chance diya jaaye. Hope they may consider ([Yes]That, that oratory skill. So, I will talk to our resident editor on this issue and if need be I will also arrange a meeting with him. I will make every effort to help you at that level. I will ask him to give you a chance. Hope they consider it).”

The next official the journalist meets is Pradeep Kumar Sinha, who is working as territory sales head of the channel. Sharma tells him that he would like to make payments in cash for his media campaign. Sinha says they would involve a third party for this purpose: “Ismein toh humein fir agency ko involve karna padega kyonki hoga kya humare yahan kya hai na ki sab aapke GST number, PAN card jaise hee dalenge na toh white money … ya agar hum yahan se agency involve karte hain toh kuch humein agency se rasta nikalna padega (Then we will have to involve an agency because once we would enter GST number and PAN card details into the system … so that is [only for] white money … so we will have to find a way out through an agency).” You mean there may be trouble?

After knowing that they have some agency which helps cushion huge cash money they receive for payments from their clients, the journalist asks him if they can bash political rival in their panel discussions both in Bihar and in Jharkhand. Sinha says their client can have this done from Zee’s Patna station only: “Ye toh yahin se hoga wo to ho jayega Sir ye channel it covers Bihar and Jharkhand dono (Sir, this will be done from here itself. This channel … it covers both Bihar and Jharkhand).” He informs us further: “Jab humara negotiations sab cheej ho jayega toh we can manage that … wahan par log different party ke baithenge jo representative honge unko bhi baithayenge … wo koi diqqat nahi hai … wo identify kar doge ki kinke kaise karna hai kinke toh clear picture ho jayega (After we complete our negotiations and all, we can manage that … there will be people from different parties [in the panel discussions]. We also invite your representative there … that is not a problem at all … if you identify how each [of the rivals] has to be run down, it will give us a clear picture).” When a territory sales head promising us to work according to our agenda, can there be any doubt that Zee news is indulging in agenda-driven journalism?

Then, the channel will depute their reporters to give us coverage to the fullest. Says Sinha: “Jahan jahan aap karoge wahan humara reporter pahunch jayega har jageh. Even then prakhand level per humara reporter hai, block mein hai, district mein hai har jageh (Wherever you organize an event, our reporter will reach there. Even then, we have reporters at division level, block level and district level, everywhere).”

These personnel of the Zee group were so eager to clinch the deal that they even sent Sharma their proposals on the proposed agenda-driven media campaign. But when Sharma did not respond to them with equal eagerness, for obvious reasons, Amit Kumar called him over phone and once again agreed to undertake the dirty job. “Haan, ek revert kar diya jaye main call arrange karta hoon baaki saari detail maine apne deed ke saath aapne dekha hoga banking details wagaireh sab diyah hua tha usmein (Yes, you will have to revert to me. I will arrange a call. I have sent you all details along with the deed [contract], you must have seen, including banking details).” Telling him that he has indeed gone through the “deed”, the journalist asks him to discuss the agenda with Purushottam Vaishnav, his CEO, as we have a political interest. We don’t want our agenda to be neglected, he informs Amit. “Main wo bilkul discuss kar loonga Sir aaj hee main arrange kara doonga aapki call (I will sure discuss it with him Sir. I shall arrange a call for you today itself).”

Fine, the journalist says in turn. You may not mention in the proposal our agenda of Hindutva and rival bashing, but this should be in the knowledge of your boss Purushottam.

Bilkul main bilkul aaj hee call arrange karaoonga wo toh waise bhi written mein nahi ayega wo toh verbally chalega (Sure, I shall arrange a call. That will in any case not be in written form. That will be undertaken verbally),” says Amit. What Amit is looking for is the acceptance of the proposal by their prospective client, as he says in earnestness: “Haan toh aap ek revert kar dein Sir main fir Purushottamji se baat kara doonga aapki baat kara … (Sir, revert to me [with your acceptance], then I will arrange a call for you with Purushottamji …).”

Sharma’s meeting with Abhishek Pandey, Senior Manager Sales, UP/Uttarakhand Zee News, also goes smoothly on expected lines, as is the wont of the entire Zee group. In his interaction with the journalist, Pandey again reveals the journalistic creed of his employer: pro-Hindutva and pro-BJP. Sharma plays that FM Pappu jingle to him and asks if they can run a similar smear campaign. Pandey has no problem with it: “Indirect way mein hai wo toh … koi diqqat nahi hai usmein (That is to be done in an indirect way …there is no problem in it).”

Knowing his willingness to undertake character assassination on their client’s behalf, Sharma tells Pandey that there has to be an aggressive bashing of rival parties like SP and BSP. Agreeing, Pandey says: “Inhone hee sabse zyada dent mara hai Hindutva pe (Yes, these parties have dented the Hindutva the most).” Now, he asks Pandey to note down his agenda of soft Hindutva which will be run for first three months, but as the election time would approach he would like Zee to pursue an aggressive campaign on his behalf to polarize the voters on communal lines. We hear a crisp reply from Pandey: “Theek hai … haan, haan theek hai (Okay … yes it is okay).” You will have to run investigative stories against SP, BSP and Congress, demands the journalist. We hear Pandey reply in monosyllable to convey his willingness: “Ji, ji, ji hoon theek hai … hoon hoon (Yes, yes. It is fine … humm).” This will be part of editorial arrangement in the deal, he tells the Zee official, but we will not discuss it with your editorial team. “Nahi, nahi, wo hum hee karenge (No, no. That I will discuss [with the editorial department).”

When there are stories appearing in the media against any of our leaders or their kin, the journalist spells out the dos and don’ts, see to it that such stories don’t appear on your channel. Or, simply downplay them. Pandey says: “Theek baat hai. Nahi hum wahi karte hain. Sir Zee ko toh aap jaante hee hain soft Hindutva aur Bhajapa … (It is fine. No, we do exactly that. Sir, you know well soft Hindutva and BJP are Zee …).”

You see, the journalist again seeks his commitment, you will have to take care of those who are against us. “Haan, hum dekh lenge (Yes, we will take care of that),” assures Pandey. Sharma reminds him that their channel will have to bash the main three opposition parties. The journalist gets this assurance from Pandey: “Theek hai, wo toh baj jayegi … khoob baj jayegi (Okay, they will indeed receive sound bashing).”

In their eagerness to clinch the deal, the Zee officials sent three proposals complete with contract to be signed by their prospective client.

It is apparent from these on-camera confessions that for Zee Media journalism is just a charade, serving the cause of Hindutva and BJP.    

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