You might nod approvingly in response to the second question if you catch Tooka show on JJ News moderated by its consultant editor Ashok Srivastava. And if you’re familiar with what’s on private news channels, you know that answering yes to the second question almost inevitably means the answer to the first is no.
Not only is its content targeting religious minorities and opposition parties similar to the broadcast of “news” on the main private television channels, Took also reflects their style. Examples of titles:
“Jharkhand Ka Islamikaran?”. Is Jharkhand Islamized?
“Ab Sanatan Dharm Nishaane By?“Is Sanatan Dharm a target now?
“Accidental Hindu Kaun?“Who is an accidental Hindu?
JJ News is headed by the state broadcaster Prasar Bharati, which as an autonomous institution is expected to act in accordance with constitutional values and in service of the unity and integrity of the country. In May, Prasar Bharati released a 20-point program code for All India Radio, DD News, and its digital platforms. The third point states that anything that “contains an attack on religions or communities, or visuals or words that disparage religious groups or promote communal attitudes” is not allowed.
In April, the Ministry of I&B issued a notice to television stations asking them to refrain from common and sensational language.
Yet when BJP leaders earlier this month asked why Urdu schools in Jharkhand had Friday as their weekly day off, Zee News ran a show called “Jharkhand Ke Schoolon Mein “Islamic rule”!” while Indian television titled their show “Jharkhand Ke Schoolon Mein Shukravaar Ki Chhutti By Bawaal, Nishikant Dubey Ne Bataya Islamikaran Ki Saazish”. Took was not far behind. Srivastava titled his show “Jharkhand Ka Islamikaran?and repeated the BJP talking points without asking questions.
He repeatedly aired Dubey’s claims that Jharkhand was being “rapidly Islamized” and that Bangladeshi Muslims were “seeping in large numbers” on screen. “My question today is why the holiday is on Friday and not Sunday,” Srivastava asked. “Who administers the potion of Islamization in Jharkhand?
To “debate” the issue, he brought together journalist Indukant Dixit, political analyst Shivam Tyagi, Congress leader Vijay Kaushik and the head of the National Commission for the Protection of Children’s Rights Priyank Kanoongo – a panel dominated by voices aligned with the worldview of the ruling party.
During Uttar Pradesh’s elections earlier this year, Srivastava’s show gave private news channels a hard time, with headlines like “Jinnah Jitayenge?” and “Jinnah By Takraar, Pakistan By Pyaar”.
It’s the kind of communal whistle that has also fueled the private channels this election season. Aaj Tak ran a show called “Jinnah Ke Sahare UP Mein Karenge Raj?”, while the title on Indian television has been “Jo Kare Jinnah Se Pyaar, Wo Kaise Kare Pakistan Se Inkaar?”. News18 also aired an episode titled “UP Chunav Mein ‘Jinnah’ Wala Daanv!”
Took does not only attack Muslims. Also, it frequently targets non-BJP governments.
When Nitish Kumar quit his alliance with the BJP and formed a new government in coalition with the RJD, news about rampant crime in Bihar – “Jungle Raj” – returned to the headlines. JJ News joined.
“Bihar Phir Jungle Raj Ki Where?” a Took requested title. Is Bihar back to Jungle Raj. Compare that to “Bihar Mein ‘Jungle Raj’ Ki Waapsi?” on ABP News and “Jungle Raj: Patna Mein Apradhion Ke Haunsle Buland, Dindahade Chhatraa with Maari Goli” on Indian television.
In 2020, when BJP Chairman JP Nadda was allegedly targeted in West Bengal, JJ News Called him “Mamata Ka Jungle Raj”, just like the private television stations on the basis of the declarations of the leaders of the BJP.
Notably, a previous AIR broadcast code, which prohibited “attacking a political party by name,” finds no mention in the new rules released in May.
During the UP election, JJ News essentially acted as a publicity arm of the Adityanath government. Newslaundry at the time how the channel portrayed BJP affiliates as ordinary citizens praising the government.
In April, Took sought to break the “Kejriwal model” of the Aam Aadmi party in Delhi based on videos made by leaders of BJP mohalla schools and clinics. There was an empty chair on Took that night, symbolically reserved for AAP, and more particularly for Kejriwal, who, according to Srivastava, was afraid to answer his questions.
Speaking of this round of DD News, a reporter associated with the channel said, “Hindu-Muslim debates had never been held before on JJ News. It’s new. Apart from Took, you’re unlikely to find something like this on any other program. The opposition and opposition governments have never been directly targeted before.
Srivastava said Newslaundry he was too busy to talk to us. This report will be updated if we receive a response to a questionnaire sent to him.
Mayank Kumar Agarwal, Quality Review Manager JJ News happy as general manager of the chain, also did not answer our questions.