News channel gets notice for allegedly hinting PM will throw money from helicopter’

The government was forced to put out a circular denying the claim, that the government is planning ‘no such thing’.

Kannada news channel Public TV Kannada has received a notice from the Press Information Bureau of India (PIB), under the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting for their show on ‘helicopter money’ in which the channel speculated if money would be thrown to the needy from helicopters.

The notice from PIB is as follows- “On April 15 Public TV broadcasted “HELICOPTER MONEY- Helicopternalli surithara Modi” (will Modi throw from the helicopter?) at 8.30 PM, which is false, mischievous, and deliberate. (It) clearly violates the Broadcasting Code and Rules. When the whole country is fighting the COVID-19, your channel, instead of creating awareness and educating the public, (is) spreading false information, creating panic and social unrest. In view of the above serious violation of Cable Television Networks(Regulation) Act, 1995 and Rules, you are hereby directed to show cause why your channel should not be taken out of air immediately.”

Additionally, PIB also tweeted saying the ‘government is going to do no such thing’.

The discussion on helicopter money came to the fore when Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrashekhar Rao had suggested that this concept of distributing money to the public might make the slumping economy pick up. It is an economic concept by American economist Milton Friedman. The concept is that a country’s central bank prints more notes and distributes it amongst the public to boost inflation and demand.

A screenshot of a Public TV broadcast, with the ticker stating “Corona effect! Will Modi throw money from helicopters?” is doing the rounds on social media. In the screenshot, there is also an image of PM Modi surrounded by notes of Rs 2,000 and Rs 500.

However, a video titled ‘Helicopter Money’ uploaded on the Public TV YouTube channel, shows a serious discussion on the economic concept of helicopter money.

In the bulletin, the reporter says, “What is Helicopter Money? Economist Milton Friedman coined this term. According to him, it is understood that from the sky, via helicopter, money will simply be thrown. This is called helicopter money. RBI will print currency notes and give it freely to the government. Helicopter money need not be returned to RBI. The government will then give it to the needy classes – coolie workers, factory workers, small businesses, medium scale enterprises, and farmers,”

It is unclear whether Public TV had other programmes on the topic and if it has taken down videos from its YouTube channel, in which they claimed blatantly that the government would throw money from helicopters.

Lately, fake news in the media, especially on regional channels which the majority of the population tunes in to, has caused serious concern. The ABP Marathi channel had put out a bulletin stating that the government was arranging a train to ferry back people to their native places from Mumbai. This caused a huge mass of migrant people who were desperate to go home, to gather. Upon finding that no such train had been arranged, they all sat where they were and started an impromptu protest. A journalist named Rahul Kulkarni was arrested, and is now out on bail. Maharashtra is currently reeling with the largest number of coronavirus cases in the country, with 3,081 cases reported as of April 16 evening. The state has seen 187 deaths attributed to the virus so far.

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