The press freedom bogey
…is raised every time there’s talk of a law “regulating” TV News channels in India. A rajya Sabha committee now says self-regulation is not enough, the media needs a set of rules from the government. I think that one shoudn’t necessarily view the idea of a law, or regulation, with suspicion. After the despicable 26/11 coverage and even before, many channels have lost the right to hide their TRP-driven sensationalism behind the free speech bogey.
That may sound self-contradictory, but see what the committee has concluded on the subject:
The Committee is of the view that self-regulation is an ideal situation but it may not be effective to regulate the media particularly in the scenario of growing competition amongst the channels for supremacy in the business of ratings. The Committee is, therefore, in favour of having statutory regulations in place covering the print and electronic media, in the larger interest of the society, on the model of the Press Council of India vested with more powers. The Committee understands that the Government has proposed to put in place the Broadcasting Regulatory Authority of India (BRAI) under an Act of Parliament and a new Content Code to be issued thereunder. The Committee expects the Government to address all the issues raised by it, while going ahead with the proposed legislation. The Committee hopes that the proposed Broadcasting Services Regulation Bill will incorporate the views of all concerned and the same introduced in Parliament without further delay. [TheHoot.org] [Emphasis mine.]
Nobody knows what the Press Council of India does.
Or wait, some people do.
At the very least, the taxpayer’s money needs to be used to put in place a mechanism similar to the Press Council. Why have a regulatory mechanism for print bt none for TV news, when these TV guys are bigger morons any day!
The TV channel honchos are so influential they’re going to stonewall any such attempt. In the many versions of the doomed Broadcast Bill draft, the most significant alteration has been the removal of a clause against cross-media ownership, modelled on the lines of many other democracies. The media monster can’t have its cake and eat it too. Somebody needs to be on their case.