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Press Council of India Chairman Markandey Katju slammed television news channels for “excessive” coverage on stars, cricket and astrology to boost viewership rather than focusing on real issues such as economy, poverty, unemployment and farmers’ suicides. He also lamented about the irresponsible way in which media works and flashes news items without verifying the source of the news. He said channels had a tendency to flash – without verifying the authenticity of email or SMS – that some outfits – Indian Mujahideen or Jaish-e-Mohammed or Harkat-ul-Mujahindeen – claimed responsibility whenever bomb blasts took place in the country, while such messages could easily be sent by mischievous elements.
“What message (airing such unsubstantiated news) it sends out? It sends out a subtle message that all Muslims are terrorists and all Muslims throw bombs”, he said. “You want to sensationalise it; you want TRP high. You don’t care if the nation is built or breaks up”. He said the fact of the matter is 99% of people in all religion are good people,” Katju said. Media should promote scientific thinking and outlook, he said and expressed the view that parents and elders who teach casteism, fundamentalism and other “backward” things should not be respected.