Delhi Violence Story One-Sided: Prasar Bharati CEO's Letter to BBC

Vempati says BBC report is silent on the “brutal targeted murder of an Intelligence Bureau Official.”

2 min read
Prasar Bharati CEO Shashi Shekhar Vempati.

Prasar Bharati's chief executive officer Shashi Shekhar Vempati has declined an invitation by BBC to attend an awards function citing "singularly one-sided version" in their coverage of Delhi riots.

A BBC spokesperson has reacted to this saying, "We stand by our journalism."

In a letter to the director general of the BBC, General Tony Hall on 4 March, Vempati cited a report by journalist Yogita Limaye which investigates the role of Delhi police in the riots.

He has written in the letter that he must "respectfully decline the broadcaster's invite to him for the 'BBC Indian Sportswoman of the Year' awards night over its Delhi riots reportage,” according to The Print.

Vempati has not explicitly mentioned the word 'riots' anywhere, but referred to it as "incidents of violence."

Prasar Bharati is the parent body of state-owned broadcasters Doordarshan and All India Radio (AIR).

Letter Mentions BBC News Report

In the letter, he has mentioned the news report by Limaye aired on 3 March, stating that the video shows visuals of the Delhi police that were "without context" and "insinuate communal behaviour."

The letter further reads, “Unfortunately nowhere in the entire report have the BBC journalists mentioned the murderous assault on the men in uniform by a mob that resulted in the death of a Head Constable while in the line of duty and also resulted in the fatal injuries received by a Deputy Commissioner of Police (sic)."

Vempati has stated that the report is also “damagingly silent” on the “brutal targeted murder of an Intelligence Bureau Official through multiple stab wounds numbering in the hundreds.”

'Public Broadcasters Must Respect Sovereignty of Nations'

Vempati's letter also states that he vehemently believes that as public broadcasters, BBC and Prasar Bharati must respect the "sovereignty of the nations" they serve, even as they collaborate on multilateral fora beyond borders for the "greater global good."

The letter also reflects a change in Prasar Bharati's stance on the foreign publications' coverage that has been evident over the last few months.

Last year in July, Prasar Bharati had criticised a presentation made by the editor of the Caravan magazine.

"I hope the BBC would review its editorial views on reports of this nature in line with this spirit," he further wrote.

(With inputs from The Print)

We Stand by Our Journalism: BBC Spokesperson

Reacting to Vempati's letter, a BBC spokesperson said, “We were sorry to hear Mr Vempati won’t be coming to the awards ceremony on Sunday as it will be a brilliant chance to showcase the achievements of some talented sportswomen. The BBC is committed to fair and impartial coverage, without fear or favour, and we stand by our journalism in respect of our reporting of recent events in India.”

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