Committing to safeguard the freedom of press, Government on Friday ruled out any interference in media but wanted “self mechanisms” to be improved to maintain accountability and responsibility of the fourth pillar of democracy.
Information and Broadcasting minister Prakash Javadekar, while responding to concerns expressed by members in Rajya Sabha over freedom of media said the government is committed to protect the independence of press.
He, however, said no freedom comes without responsibility and said that media’s affairs should be looked after by its own mechanisms.
“I don’t like the word ‘regulation’ so there should be self mechanisms,” Javadekar said.
He said there is need for “improvement” in these self regulatory mechanisms. “More life needs to be breathed into these mechanisms,” he said.
These self mechanisms should have provision for penal action for irresponsible reporting, he said.
The Minister said presently there is Press Council of India for the print media which is but a “toothless wonder.”
Even the orders of Press Council are not published, he said.
He said that for news channels there is the News Broadcasting Standards Authority while for entertainment channels there exists Broadcasting Content Complaints Council (BCCC). To look into issues related to advertisements, he said there is Advertising Standards Council of India.
He said that at times there is “sensationalism” in news reports related to leaders or other areas and there have been cases where people have even committed suicide.
Referring to the phenomenon of paid news, he said people know about its reality.
On social media, Javadekar said the need for evolving a mechanism to regulate it is an issue for consideration but it pertains to a subject administered by another ministry as this medium comes under the information and technology law.