Response to Cobra Post Sting Operation 136 against our TV News Channel Suvarna News, Newspaper Kannada Prabha and Radio Station Indigo 91.9 FM
This is with response to Cobra Post’s recent sting videos and its false allegations that the group of media – Suvarna News TV channel, newspaper Kannada Prabha and radio station Indigo 91.9 FM accepted monetary offers to promote a religious ideology.
At the outset, we would like to place on record our complete denial of Cobra Post’s false allegation that we accepted offers of money to promote a religious ideology. The allegations are baseless and incorrect. Instead we had instantly informed the police authorities of the ill intention of the person who approached us and brought it to the notice of the public by publishing a news in our newspaper. As a reputed media group, we have ensured that we maintain editorial integrity throughout our various television, print, radio and digital mediums. The group has a 20+ year legacy (Kannada Prabha, is a 50-year respectable brand) of broadcasting news which is unbiased and independent.
Cobra Post’s sting operation video claims that their intention was to expose media channels which promote the ideology of Hindutva for politics. In Cobra Post’s meetings with some of our management team members, we had made it clear to their reporter that we will not be able to air advertisements or content which doesn’t meet the standard editorial guidelines. The video which has been aired is maliciously altered by Cobra Post to show the contrary by picking lines from different parts of the conversation and making the viewer believe their lies. We condemn this attempt by them to tarnish our group’s brand image.
We would also like to bring to light the chronological order of events which occurred during this sting operation.
11th October 2017 – Approached by Acharya Atal alias undercover reporter Pushp Sharma from Cobra Post
The reporter mentioned in this case came to us with a proposal to air the spiritual and religious messages by a reputed acharya of Valmiki Ashram, Uttar Pradesh. He said the messages will be from the holy book of Bhagavad Geeta which would be non-controversial and not hurting the religious sentiments of viewers. In his own words, “Not crossing the Laxmana Rekha”. This portion of the conversation has been conveniently deleted from the video clip to support Cobra Post’s ill purposed intentions. We do broadcast pure religious programs and we have no issues taking such campaigns if any. However, after a few minutes of talking, Cobra Post’s reporter started emphasising on promoting hidden Hindutva and political messages. We don’t accept such campaigns. Neither are we telecasting such hidden agenda content nor have we agreed to telecast such malicious content. Cobra Post’s allegation that we accepted to telecast hidden political messages through their advertisements is a complete wrong assumption and a false allegation.
The reporter from Cobra Post asked us to telecast news against the government and a political party JDS. Irrespective of political parties, we have been telecasting news for and against the government and opposition parties be it Congress, BJP or JDS as and when there is merit to do so. We don’t do it at the instance of commercially interested parties. We have always stood by our slogan which stands for “straight, bold and relentless” in reporting of news.
11th October 2017 – Mail from Suvarna News & Kannada Prabha editor, Mr. Ravi Hegde to the investigation team asking them to initiate a sting operation on Acharya Atal
Firstly, suspecting the reporter’s intentions, (at that point of time we were not aware of cobra post sting operation) the editor launched an instant sting operation on him. A copy of the email of the editor to our investigation team assigning this task is attached here with is self-explanatory.
12th October 2017 – Police Complaint against Acharya Atal by Suvarna News
We immediately filed a police complaint against the suspected person (Acharya Atal, since we were not aware of the person’s name at that instance). A copy of our complaint and acknowledgement from the police is made available along with this statement. We would not have done this if we had any intent of promoting any such biased content or a religion. Following up on our police complaint, we had also offered the police our help to arrest this person Acharya Atal through our own sting operation. However, multiple attempts to track this reporter by us and the police failed as he had escaped from Bangalore. As a responsible media house, we were more than alert to report this malicious proposal.
13th October 2017 – News article on the incident in Kannada Prabha newspaper
Secondly, we didn’t stop at this, in fact we have also carried a news article in our newspaper Kannada Prabha dated 13th Oct 2017 in which we had stated how a Swamiji from Uttar Pradesh was trying to promote Hindutva in Karnataka by offering advertisements to TV channels. (At that point of time we were not aware that this was a sting operation by cobrapost) A copy of this is also made available along with this statement. Why would a media house allegedly agreeing to promote this kind of content for money, as shown by Cobra Post’s ill-intended video, be using its own credible print medium and do a news article reporting this matter much ahead of making these videos public?
24th May 2018 – Injunction order restraining Cobra Post from airing any defamatory content
Lastly, we had already approached the honourable court of the City Civil and Sessions Judge on 24th May 2018 regarding this matter and had obtained an injunction order against any such damaging story to be aired or spread against our media group. Despite informing this to Cobra Post’s team, they have gone ahead and posted this content on the internet which has placed them in contempt of the court order. The mail copy of the order was shared by our advocates, Legal Services Inc. on 25th May 2018 at 8:30 PM on the mail id – firstname.lastname@example.org belonging to Cobra Post. The physical copy of the order duly notarized is being sent to Cobra Post at their office address in and around Delhi.
We call upon Cobra Post to immediately remove this content on their website and across all other social media networks. We will be immediately pursuing legal action against them for their attempt to damage the reputation of our media group.
The media group is committed to upholding its promise of delivering the highest standards of journalism and ethical practices across platforms.