The Opposition has come down heavily on the NDA government at the Centre for its alleged attempt to gag the media by stopping government advertisements to the media houses.
While raising the issue on the floorof the Lower House, Choudhury termed it’s a serious issue.
Trinamool Congress MP from West Bengal Mohua Moitra, while lashing at the central government, sought to know from the central government if certain media houses were excluded from receiving government advertisements.
The report quoted Chowdhury as saying: “The undemocratic and megalomaniac style of stopping advertisement is a message to media from this government to toe its line. Rafale deal was engulfed in controversies, favouritism and corruption – The Hindu newspaper exposed it; the Times of India exposed the violation of Model Code of Conduct by the Prime Minister; The Telegraph and the ABP were critical of the Prime Minister.”
The report further quoted Chowdhury as saying: “This is a democratic country and the freedom speech of expression and freedom of press are so important thateverybody must stand up to protect these basic rights.”
Stating that “media is being gagged, all advertisements are being stopped”, Chowdhury also claimed that the advertisements have been stopped to the media houses for raising voice against the government.
In Assam, the report claimed, the Directorate of Advertising and Visual Publicity (DAVP) of the central government stopped issuing advertisement to The Assam Tribune since the month of February this year allegedly on “instructions from higher ups”.
The report also claimed that the NDA government has taken such a step against the newspaper for its stand on the controversial Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016.
It may be mentioned that most of the newspapers and media houses of Assam stood against the Centre’s move to pass the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016 in the Parliament.
Mahua Moitra, the Krishnanagar Lok Sabha MP from the Trinamool Congress, raised the issue during the Zero Hour of the Lok Sabha on Thursday.
The report quoted Moitra as saying: “We want to know as to what is the break-up of the advt-spend via media houses and if the certain print media are being excluded. This is very important.”
She also mentioned that in December, 2018, the then union minister for information and broadcasting Rajyavardhan Rathore told the House that the government had spent Rs 5,246 crore on advertisement during the period from 2014 till December, 2018.
She added, “…we need to have a better idea what the total advertising spending is”.