I&B pearl of wisdom: may need licence to write this

Right of citizens,right of media barons on parallel tracks... don't meet,said Manish Tewari.

Written by Express News Service | New Delhi | Published: August 20, 2013 3:22 am

Information and Broadcasting Minister Manish Tewari Monday said the media industry should consider holding a common exam for journalists,on the lines of that conducted by the Bar Council,after which they could be given a licence to pursue the profession.

Related: Indian media does not need external regulator,says CJI Sathasivam

“I think a good starting point (for media education) would be that rather than prescribing a curricula which is then standardised across institutions,possibly the media industry could think about at least having a common exam. Like you have a Bar exam,like you have a medical exam or exams which are conducted by other professional bodies,which then issue a licence,which enables you to pursue your profession,” Tewari said at an event organised by CMS Academy. The examination,he said,could be conducted by a body of peers which would then issue a certificate that the person is fit to practise journalism. Shekhar Gupta’s column: Mere paas media hai

Tewari added that there were good institutions to train journalists but there were also “fly-by-night” operators in the media education sector. He said professionals from diverse fields would not resent the idea of a common exam. “It would bring a certain amount of standardisation across the media space,” he said. Within hours of the speech BJD MP Jay Panda tweeted: “Next,a govt licence b4 you can post on Twitter ;)?”

This is the minister’s second speech on media standards/regulation in the past one week. Last week at a debate on media regulation he had spoken for statutory mandatory self-regulation.

Last year,Congress MP Meenakshi Natarajan had moved a private members’ Bill for providing for a media regulatory authority with sweeping powers that included imposing a “ban” or “suspending coverage” of an event or incident that “may pose a threat to national security from foreign or internal sources”.

Press Council of India chairman Justice (retd) Markandey Katju had earlier this year set up a committee to decide minimum qualifications for journalists.

Tewari later said that he had just made a suggestion to be discussed at a workshop on media education. “If the industry feels there is a need for such an architecture (of common examination and certification of journalists) the government could look into it. It is our economic philosophy that any initiative at regulation should emanate from the industry with stakeholder consensus. Unlike PCI we are not calling for minimum qualifications and it is also possible that the media industry decides that a generic examination cannot judge the the diverse array of people who come into journalism,” Tewari told The Indian Express.

The minister in his speech at the workshop also spoke about a “fundamental ambiguity” regarding classification of media as to whether it a business under Article 19(1)(g) (freedom to practice any profession) of the Constitution or as any other activity which is entitled to the protection of article 19(1)(a) (freedom of speech and expression).

“After 67 years of independence as we meet here today,in the wake of possibly a downsizing or rightsizing which is taking place,in one of the broadcasting platforms and at a point in time when the wage board recommendations have been taken to the court by the promoters,I cannot help but conclude that media is a business and the rights of the citizens and the rights of the media barons fall in different buckets. The twain are like parallel tracks,perhaps never destined to meet,” Tewari said.

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