A day after airing a story critical of Congress and its chief Sonia Gandhi, Sakshi television channel owned by Kadapa MP Y S Jaganmohan Reddy took a U-turn on Sunday, re-telecasting it after deleting adverse references to her and claiming that it had not targeted her.
Though Sakshi TV announced that the 8 AM show scheduled on Sunday would be a "re-telecast" of the episode aired on Friday night (and repeated on Saturday morning), viewers got to see a version that was totally different from the earlier one.
The anchor-part as well as the voice-over in today's story were clearly recorded afresh while all the adverse remarks against Sonia were deleted. The bold headlines that criticised Sonia as well as Prime Minister Manmohan Singh too were dropped. The master title of the programme "Hastagatam" became "Congress@125" in Sunday's telecast.
At the same time, Sakshi CEO Priyadarshini Ram said the story was not against either Gandhi or Singh and maintained that there was no intervention by Jagamnohan with regard to the content of the TV channel.
"It was not a story against...either Sonia Gandhi or Manmohan Singh. It was a current story that was based on the 125 years of the Congress party, how it was faring...
"Jaganmohan Reddy, on the day of the inauguration of this media house, made one specific statement saying that this channel would be unbiased, truthful and clear-headed. There is no effort from Jaganmohan Reddy or intervention by him on the content of Sakshi television," Ram said.
Sakshi also showed a clipping of the channel's inaugural function wherein Jagan sought to assert that his media has nothing to do with Congress.
"Sakshi is a most balanced and independent media. This has no affiliation with any political party," Jagan had said.
Highlighting this statement, Sakshi claimed that it telecast the (Friday's) episode on Sonia "as an independent media. Our analysis on Sonia and Congress party was in line with our independent stance.
"We never criticised Sonia Gandhi," the channel claimed late last night even as a host of Congress bigwigs, including Chief Minister K Rosaiah, former Chief Minister N Janardhana Reddy, several state ministers and PCC chief D Srinivas, strongly condemned the "blasphemous story".
The special story on Friday was telecast to mark the 125th anniversary celebrations of Congress. It had said the grand old party was on a "rapid degeneration" across the country and even Sonia herself was facing rough weather in Rae Bareilly constituency.