Tamil Nadu Police have tightened the security for popular Tamil video blogger (vlogger) Maridhas after a group of people, reportedly supporters of Dravidar Kazhagam (DK) and Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK), threatened to attack the vlogger.
The threat comes after Maridhas questioned biased coverage of news events by Mukesh Ambani-owned Tamil news television channel News18 through an expose in his video channel.
Ambani’s Network 18 owns News18 Tamil news television channel. According to Broadcast Audience Research Council, India, it is ranked fifth in terms of viewership among the slew of news channels in Tamil.
Maridhas says that News18 is being run as a channel supporting the ideas and thoughts of DK and communists.
This is mainly in view of News18’s senior editor M Gunasekaran being the son-in-law of senior DK leader Kali Poongduran.
Maridhas, talking to Swarajya and in his video, has alleged that Gunasekaran has ensured that at least 70 per cent of those recruited by News18 are sympathisers or supporters of DK or communists.
“All these recruits are 100 per cent recommended by DK,” Maridhas said, adding that his objections stem from the activities of a correspondent of the news channel.
The correspondent is active on social media campaigning on two issues. One is #BlackLivesMatter, which the vlogger alleges is being flogged to run an anti-Hindutva campaign.
The other is "for change" through the Centre for Media Persons for Change (CMPC), which promotes anti-national campaigns such as protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) 2019.
Maridhas, who has been attacked by CMPC as “a fool”, says that the media centre has links with One Mind Generation (OMG) Research Foundation, launched by DMK leader and Tamil Nadu Assembly member Mahesh Anbil Poyyamozhi.
In April last year, OMG Research Foundation was caught in a after leaked email transcripts revealed that it was instrumental in trying to boost the image of DMK president M K Stalin during the January 2017 protests demanding that Jallikattu (bull fight) be held in Tamil Nadu.
Maridhas said that the controversy left no one in doubt that OMG Research Foundation was a company that is trying to boost the image of Stalin.
CMPC and OMG Research Foundation are actively involved in and influencing decisions pertaining to recruitment in Tamil news channels.
This, the vlogger says, is an attempt to control the media by the anti-national and anti-Hindu lobby to ensure "their favourites such as Stalin come to power in Tamil Nadu".
Maridhas raised these issues in detail in his vlog but was met with allegations by the DMK that he attempted to lower the image of media persons through such videos.
The vlogger has responded to the allegations saying that not a single question he has raised on the biased functioning of News18 has been answered.
“These people in News18 Tamil news channel acting on behalf of DK and communists are trying to vacate the pro-Hindutva forces. I am only questioning that. All the talk of press freedom being in danger is rubbish,” Maridhas said.
The vlogger says that he can understand if the Sun Group’s television channels, owned by DMK family members, or the Jaya TV channels, owned now by Amma Makkal Munnetra Kazhagam’s founder T T V Dinakaran, do such things as they have been floated by the political parties.
But News18 is a public limited company with its shares listed on the National Stock Exchange and Bombay Stock Exchange. It is answerable to shareholders on its policies and the strategies it follows.
“How can such a news channel indulge in anti-Hindu and anti-national propaganda? How can it be filled with staff who are sympathisers and supporters of the DK, DMK and communists?” Maridhas wondered.
Some journalists, particularly those working with News18, have sought an apology from Maridhas but he has said he would not succumb to their pressure.
“You need to respond to the questions I have raised first. They are of national importance,” he says, adding that since these forces were unable to make him fall in line, they have threatened him.
The vlogger’s expose of News18 Tamil news channel comes at a time when Tamil Nadu is headed for assembly polls in 10 months.
The issues raised by him are likely to affect the DMK and its allies more as they try their best to wrest back the power in the state.
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