Porn probe panel grills media over telecast of footage

K.G. BopaiahEven before it could take a decision on summoning the three former Ministers found watching pornographic video clippings on a mobile phone, the Legislative Assembly Committee constituted by Speaker K.G. Bopaiah to probe the episode  has begun the process of grilling representatives of television channels for telecasting the damning footage.

The editor of a Kannada channel, who appeared before the committee on Wednesday, was asked questions that seemed to suggest that the media was wrong in telecasting the episode. “Don’t you know that what you had done is a violation of Rules 6, 17 and 20 of the Karnataka Vidhana Soudha press gallery rules?” was one of the 15 questions posed to the editor.

CONGRESS, JD(S) BOYCOTT PANEL

Five of the 15 questions were part of a dossier circulated among the four ruling party legislators in the seven-member panel. The Congress and the JD(S) have boycotted the committee. The other 10 questions were asked spontaneously.The questions ranged from “What is the purpose of your organisation when securing entrance into the Assembly?” to “Instead of recording the proceedings of the Assembly, your journalist forgot his primary duty and recorded indecent and unnecessary things on his camera. Is this correct? What was the intention behind this?”Among the other questions were: “Without the Speaker’s permission, knowing that the visuals were unparliamentary, you have telecast it through the day. Is this right on your part?” and “Showing these kind of visuals could affect the viewers, so don’t you think you are violating the constitutional provision of freedom of expression?”

Asked to respond, the editor said, “What I have been asked is already in the public domain. I would not like to comment on it as it can be construed as a breach of privilege.”Another senior journalist from a Kannada television channel has been summoned to appear before the committee on Thursday.A member of the panel confirmed to The Hindu that the panel had summoned representatives of another regional television channel on Thursday, where the same set of queries is expected to be posed.The former Ministers, Laxman Savadi, C.C. Patil and J. Krishna Palemar, had to resign from the BJP government after television channels exposed them watching pornographic video clippings during the Assembly session on February 7.

REPLY TO SHOW-CAUSE

Meanwhile, Shrishailappa Bidarur, who heads the Assembly Committee, told presspersons that the panel, which had received replies from the three Ministers to the show-cause served on them, would take a decision on Thursday whether to summon them before the panel.The committee would submit report by March 13, the deadline set by the Speaker, he said.Apart from Mr. Bidarur, the panel comprises BJP MLAs S.R. Vishwanath, Nehru Olekar and Suresh Gowda. H.C. Mahadevappa and Amare Gowda Bayyapur of the Congress and Dinakar Shetty of the JD(S) have boycotted the panel.  – Thehindu