TV9 employees unhappy with company’s new social media policy: NL report

Hyderabad: City-based news channel TV9’s employees are reportedly unhappy with their management due to the company’s latest social media guidelines. The new rules have seemingly not gone down well with many from the media company.

According to a report by News Laundry, the employees of the organization received a mail from the group’s chief human resource officer Ashish Pinto stating “Important additions are being made to the social media guidelines of the Company. All employees/ consultants/ trainees shall peruse and follow these norms strictly.”

The email, accessed by Newslaundry, quoted two “categories” that had been added to the policy “with immediate effect”. The first concerned those who had a public profile on social media platforms, and who “exhibit their association with the company”.

Any post or tweet by a reporter, anchor or any employee, the email said, will need to be pre-approved by a competent authority, which meant either the managing editors of respective channels for all editorial staff or the group editor or news director for non-editorial staff and managing editors.

The new policy came in on the day TV9 received a legal notice from a supremacist group called the Hindu IT Cell. On August 22, a journalist with Hindi news channel TV9 Bharatvarsh had tweeted that “people who swear in the name of sisters are celebrating a festival today,” referring to Rakshabandhan, said he NL report. 

The supremacist group apprently called the tweet “offensive” and the journalist “Hinduphobic”. It first threatened to boycott TV9 on social media, and then said that it was in “in constant touch with the management” of TV9 Bharatvarsh.

In addition to telling employees what not to do on social media, Pinto’s email also told them what they had better do: “Amplify all company statements/announcements posted/tweeted from official company handles. In breaking news situations, they will retweet/share the channel’s tweets/posts.”

The second category includes those at TV9 who wish to run a personal social media account. “This category of social media users SHALL NOT show any association with the company and for them the social media guidelines as previously announced and available on company intranet will apply.”

When News Laundry sent a questionnaire to TV9 regarding the modified guidelines, BV Rao, group editor, TV9 Network responded about the need to introduce a new social media policy saying, of late, and quite frequently, controversial opinions – even though they are expressed in the personal capacity on social media – are being ascribed to the organisation just because the persons expressing that opinion are introducing themselves as employees of the group.

When asked about the employees’ allegations of curbing their freedom of speech in the name of guidelines, and being asked to make sure their post/tweets are pre-approved by a competent authority he said, “This policy applies only to those employees who wish to use their TV9 Network identity to air opinions on public platforms. As news organisations we have the responsibility to stand by any message we put out in the public domain. Will a reporter’s raw copy go through without moderation? tThen why should social media posts of journalists/employees – whose identity is conjoined with that of the organization, not be put through the same filters? Especially when their controversial opinions get misconstrued as that of the organisation’s? So, no, this is not about restricting free speech of our staffers, it is about saving them and the organization from embarrassment and worse. “