‘Stay firmly with the national government’
Many within India’s news firmament have embraced Mr. Modi, sensing how much the popular mood has swung away from India’s founding secularism and toward Mr. Modi’s brand of strident Hindu nationalism. Right-wing TV anchors, led by Arnab Goswami of Republic TV, compete to outdo one another as the loudest Modi supporters.
As the government announced the crackdown in Kashmir, M.K. Anand, the managing director of Times Network, sent his editors a directive.
“We are India’s leading news broadcasters,” he wrote in a WhatsApp message, seen by The New York Times. “It is important that we stay firmly with the national government at this juncture instead of focusing on finding faults.”
The Modi government has been particularly concerned about broadcast media, which reach into every corner of the country. It has approved very few new TV channels, and even Bloomberg, the American media giant, has been unable to get a license, despite investing millions of dollars with its Indian partner.
In this environment, sharp criticism of Mr. Modi can end careers. After a host at the Hindi news channel ABP questioned the results of one of the prime minister’s initiatives to help poor farmers, the satellite transmission of the show was interrupted every time it was broadcast, said several people who worked at the station. The channel’s owners pressured the host, Punya Prasun Bajpai, to resign, and as soon as he left, the transmission interruptions stopped, the former employees said.
And after another ABP anchor, Abhisar Sharma, criticized Mr. Modi on live television about public safety, he was pulled off the air the same day. He, too, said he was pressured to quit.