Advising Minister of State for External Affairs General V K Singh against making demeaning and irresponsible statements about media, the Press Council of India (PCI), Editors Guild of India (EGI), News Broadcasters Association (NBA) and Broadcast Editors Association (BEA) have invited the minister to approach them with his complaints and assured him of an objective and effective resolution. Asserting that it did not need the minister’s advice on how to regulate itself, the BEA said it rejects the minister’s “utterances with contempt”. The EGI sought to remind him of the recent Supreme Court judgment on using derogatory language on social media.
In a statement Thursday, Singh said, “Since 2012, I have been repeatedly attacked by certain ‘media workers’ who have published stories that were not only cooked up, but also did enormous harm to the institution that I was heading, the Indian Army…”
He alleged that when he fought back, “The institutions these individuals represented, simply hardened their stand and continued to unleash more and more vitriol in the hope of harming my reputation.” Singh added there was an unwritten code in media that “they will not write or say anything against their own which results in a person being publicly condemned with no real options”.
He said while such individuals had legal recourse but deep-pocket media organisations could “wear anyone down”. Further alleging that PCI was not an option as it was “dominated by some of the very people who are playing the game of using the media to discredit individuals”, he said even the government couldn’t take action because it led to “protests about the media being gagged”.
Responding to his grievance, PCI chairman Justice Chandramauli Kumar Prasad said: “Justified or not, he has right to his views. Beyond that it is a matter of adjudication and he cannot decide who is guilty.” He said: “Surely, we are a peers body but we are objective. I assure you we will examine your complaint dispassionately and with complete objectivity should you approach us.”
The BEA condemned Singh’s outbursts. “BEA doesn’t have to respond to unsolicited advice. It rejects Mr Singh’s utterances with the contempt it deserves,” said N K Singh, a senior journalist and BEA general secretary .
NBA president Rajat Sharma said: “We already have News Broadcast Standards Authority (NBSA) headed by a retired SC judge… Gen V K Singh is free to approach the independent regulatory body if he has any complaints .”
The Editors Guild reminded Singh it was because of a tolerant media that no action had been taken against him for using derogatory words like “presstitutes”. “Looks like Gen Singh has not read the Supreme Court judgment on use of foul language on social media. We will not allow anybody to browbeat us,” said Ajay Upadhyay, EGI general secretary.