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Self-Regulated Media Council On The Cards, Says I&B Minister

Chandigarh, Feb 14: Union Minister Ambika Soni on Sunday said that a 'Council', headed by a retired Supreme Court judge or ex-Chief Justice of a High Court, would be formed soon for self-regulation of the
PTI February 14, 2011 13:02 IST
PTI
Chandigarh, Feb 14: Union Minister Ambika Soni on Sunday said that a 'Council', headed by a retired Supreme Court judge or ex-Chief Justice of a High Court, would be formed soon for self-regulation of the media.

Besides the Chairman, the 'Council' will have 12 other members consisting of four members of the broadcasters, four representatives of civil society and one representative each from NCW, NCPCR, National Commission for SC/ST and fourthly, a representative of the National Commission of the affected
party, the I&B minister said at the seventh annual meet of Chandigarh Punjab Union of Journalists (CPUJ) here.

"The Ministry is at the threshold of (announcing) the two-tier system -- one is for the individual channels confirming with the Cable Regulatory Act and second is to put in place the Council headed by a retired Supreme Court Judge or a retired Chief Justice of a High Court," the I&B minister said.

The minister said she had written to the Prime Minister earlier that she wanted to have two of her cabinet colleagues -- Home Minister P Chidambaram and Law Minister Veerappa Moily, so that they could talk across the political spectrum on the issue and pass on the feedback to the television industry.

The Indian Broadcasting Foundation (IBF) would form a redressal committee in an effort to establish self-regulation on all non-news channels, she said.

"Our government believes that self-regulation is the best and most intelligent and independent method of regulation in a democratic set up like ours," she said.

The IBF's redressal committee will be similar to the News Broadcasting Standards Authority set up by News Broadcasters Association (NBA), which is headed by ex-CJI Justice JS Verma.

The Authority acts as a self-regulatory body for news channels.

Under the redressal mechanism, the viewers can address their grievances to the broadcaster or the channel in the first place. If the viewer is not satisfied with the channel's response, then he/she can lodge a complaint with the redressal committee, the minister said.

Parliamentarians and representatives of civil society among others had felt that some non-news channels had been showing content which was difficult for families to watch, she said.

Referring to the 'paid news' phenomenon as a serious matter, she said that the issue was affecting the credibility of news reports.

"The paid news issue does not just crop up during the elections, but at other times as well. Media houses are becoming big corporates and if business corporate gives shares of his company to other corporates, then journalists (working in that media house) have to write columns praising that company, which may go bust in two months. Who would be responsible?" she wondered.

The paid news syndrome is becoming a threat to the media's effort of upholding the democracy, the minister said. A Group of Ministers (GoM) headed by Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee has been formed to take a holistic view on the issue and a way forward would be found, she added. PTI