New Delhi: The executive committee of the Broadcast Editors’ Association (BEA) has expelled Sudhir Chaudhary, editor and business head of Zee News, from the apex body of news channel editors of which he was the treasurer. His primary membership of BEA has been cancelled, it said in a press release.
Chaudhary said the move by the BEA was unjust.
“The BEA has chosen, perhaps advertently, to ignore my repeated submissions in black and white and denied me representation and an opportunity to safeguard my constitutional rights in a criminal complaint pending against me,” Chaudhary said in an letter to BEA, a copy of which was emailed to Mint.
The BEA move comes after the three-member fact-finding committee found him guilty of ethical misconduct after Naveen Jindal-led Jindal Steel and Power Ltd (JSPL) alleged that the editor had asked for money to stop unfavourable stories on the company on his news channel.
“BEA has relied on the false, malicious, and distractive propaganda unleashed by Naveen Jindal against me,” Chaudhary said.
JSPL, run by Congress MP Jindal, filed a first information report (FIR) with the crime branch of Delhi Police on 2 October alleging attempts at extortion by the Zee News editor and other employees in return for taking the negative reports off air. The news reports were related to irregularities in the allotment of captive coal mines.
According to BEA’s press release, a committee comprising senior broadcast journalists N. K. Singh, Dibang and Rahul Kanwal arrived at the unanimous conclusion “that Mr. Sudhir Chaudhary is found to have acted in a manner that is unbecoming of an editor and in a fashion that is prejudicial to the interest and objects of the BEA”.
The release said the BEA constitution provides for a secret ballot and the executive committee agreed to remove the editor of Zee News after a vote. The committee also decided to appoint a new treasurer at its next meeting.
BEA is a body of editors of electronic news channels that seeks to ensure journalism standards are maintained across channels. It took suo moto cognizance of news reports last week regarding the allegations of extortion against Zee News made by Jindal Steel and Power.
A Zee group official who didn’t want to be identified said the company would stand by its employee.