Daijiworld News Network - Bengaluru
New Delhi, Apr 6 : With the biggest data leak in history, called the 'Panama Papers Leak', starting to take some casualties already, media across the world have been reporting this issue on prime time and front pages. But in India, despite several big names featured in the leaks, some of the big media houses are seemingly silent on the issue.
While the international print media continue to report the issue on front pages as main stories, some TV channels too have taken this as prime news. Amitabh Bachchan whose name appeared in the first list, has clarified to media that he never had any offshore companies, and that his name was misused. The list of leaks show some prominent businessmen who have political links too.
But what many have questioned is the silence of the number one English channel in the country, Times Now, which, until now, has not bothered to report the issue. "Forget about discussing on prime time News Hour, I have not even seen the news in scrolling!" said one Mumbai-based journalist who follows Times Now keenly on major issues.
"Not only journalists, even common viewers are also disappointed, as the nation considers Arnab Goswami, who is editor-in chief and president of Times Now, as an upright journalist. He claims that he speaks only the truth and nothing but the truth, but now he has failed to give space to this very important issue," the journalist said.
"Even if there is a small Congress-BJP issue, Times Now is the first to report and sensationalize the issue, and conduct discussions for hours together, but how can this important issue skip from its agenda?" questioned a female journalism student in New Delhi.
Some experts have analysed that media rivalry may be the reason. It was Indian Express daily that broke the news in a big way in India. In fact, The Indian Express journalists were among the global media team that investigated the documents. The Indian Express happens to be a rival of The Times of India, which is related to Times Now, and this might have prompted the channel not to cover the issue in a big way, so that The Indian Express story would not have the desired impact. But some others feel there should be some 'hidden agenda' or that Times Now may be purposely trying to degrade this news.
Arnab Goswami, who has a huge number of followers for his News Hour hardly misses any important news, but his silence on this issue could affect his credibility, analysts opine.
The huge leak of documents had lifted the lid on how the rich and powerful use tax havens to hide their wealth. The files were leaked from one of the world's most secretive companies, a Panamanian law firm called Mossack Fonseca.
As per The Indian Express, the leaked documents reveal that prominent individuals have set up offshore entities through the Panama law firm. Some of the Indians floated offshore entities at a time when laws did not allow them to do so. "Some have taken a technically convenient view that companies acquired is not the same as companies incorporated; some have bunched their annual quota of remittances to subscribe to shares in an offshore entity acquired at an earlier date. Still, some others have received income earned abroad and deposited it in the entity to avoid tax. Some have opened a bank account to keep payoffs in government contracts, or held “proceeds of crime” or property bought with money made illegally in trusts/ foundations," it states.
The 11.5 million documents were obtained by the German newspaper Sueddeutsche Zeitung and shared with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ). The ICIJ then worked with journalists from 107 media organisations in 76 countries, Indian Express, to analyse the documents over a year.
Times Now which came under attack during the JNU - Kanhaiya issue for telecasting a purported fake video showing Kanhaiya and other students shouting 'anti-India slogans', refused to apologize or issue clarification on the issue. Recently the channel also came under attack for taking political sides, especally during election.
Though every media house has its own policies and independence in reporting, Arnab Goswami-led Times Now has a habit of downgrading rival channels by aggresively claiming that it's fighting for truth and justice. However, its defeaning silence in this issue has certainly raised some eyebrows.