Anti-corruption activists Arvind Kejriwal and Prashant Bhushan are planning to launch a television channel, which, they say, will be non-profit and will focus on public issues.
“We are starting a channel which will focus on public issues,” said Bhushan.
He indicated that the channel would not just be confined to people from the Aam Aadmi Party, but would be a representative of people interested in public issues. “It won’t be AAP's channel, but will belong to a broader group. We are facilitating the formation of a public service broadcaster,” Bhushan explained.
Bhushan was silent about the names of the people who are to be associated with the channel. “We are creating a team and we have to organise the funds. It will take some time,” he said.
Other AAP members confirmed that the TV channel would be ready this year.
“We have always felt that the country needed a good public service broadcaster. As a broadcaster, Prasar Bharti has failed to achieve the purpose for which it was set up. So, the idea was to facilitate setting up an alternative,” said Yogender Yadav, political analyst and AAP member.
“Besides, there is an acute need for a media which is not dependent on advertisement revenues and on profit making. That is the whole idea which is behind this proposal,” said Yadav.
The move by Kejriwal and Bhushan comes after both activists found doors of the mainstream media closed on them in December. This, after Mukesh Ambani-led Reliance Industries Limited sent a defamation notice to some TV channels who had aired their (Kejriwal and Bhushan’s) live press conferences accusing RIL, among others, of being corrupt and manipulative.
The notice, issued by AS Dayal and Associates on behalf of RIL and its MD and Chairman Mukesh Ambani, said that the channels concerned had “provided a platform for wide dissemination of the false and defamatory statements and allegations made at the said press conferences.”
The notice referred specifically to a press conference by Kejriwal and Bhushan in November last year, accusing the government of being prejudiced in favour of RIL in the matter of increasing the rates of gas extracted from the Cauvery basin.
The notice said that the “live telecast of these press conferences amounts to permanent publication of defamatory material relating to our client by you.”
“The press conferences were telecast live without making any attempt to verify the truth or veracity of the statements and allegations being made during the press conference,” the notice said.
While the leaders of AAP are denying that the channel would have political affiliations, it is common for political parties to own TV channels as is the case of Jaya TV belonging to the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam and Kalaignar TV owned by the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam in Tamil Nadu.
Congress owns the Jaihind channel in Kerala while Kairali TV is associated with the Left in the state.