Indian TV news channel Mangalam claimed a housewife asking for help from an Indian politician sent the station an audio recording allegedly demonstrating the politician’s sexual overtures. The politician, A K Saseendran, resigned after Mangalam broadcast the audio sex tape.
Saseendran was the transport minister for the state of Kerala and a leader of the Nationalist Congress Party. Mangalam is a news TV channel in Kerala. Its March 26 program on Saseendran aired between 11 a.m. and 11:30 a.m., according to Indian English-language daily newspaper The Hindu.
Following his resignation, Saseendran asked the police to investigate, denying he sexually harassed a constituent who was asking for help. iMediaEthics has asked Saseendran for more information concerning his decision to resign and how the woman identified herself to him in the call.
The plot thickened after Saseendran resigned. Only then did Mangalam’s managing director and CEO, R. Ajith Kumar, admit that the news station deceived viewers and Saseendran. That is, the station had gone undercover and used one of its female journalists to pose as the offended housewife to get the recording, Indian news site Outlook reported.
A clip of the segment is available on YouTube, but it is not in English.
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After this revelation, five of the TV channel’s journalists have been arrested for “transmitting sexually explicit material in electronic form under Section 67 (A) of the Information Technology Act,” The Hindu reported. They could be jailed for 5 years and ordered to pay 10 lakhs, which is 1 million rupees, or about $15,500 U.S.
iMediaEthics has written to Mangalam to ask why the station felt it was necessary to go undercover, why it lied about going undercover, and how many complaints it received over the report.
While Saseendran resigned in order “to uphold political morality,” according to the Indian Express, he said, “My resignation is not a confession.”
Saseendran stood by his interactions with constituents as “appropriate” and said he resigned so authorities could investigate his complaint about the recording, the Indian Express, an Indian English-language daily newspaper, reported.
Five Mangalam journalists — Kumar, investigation leader R. Jayachandran, news coordinating editor M. B. Santosh, and news editors/hosts Firoz Sali Muhammad and S. V. Pradeep — were arrested April 4, according to The Hindu.