Media panel wants journalists to express regret

"Particularly disturbing were the moves to use media persons for help to influence decisions by the government and leadership of the ruling dispensation on crucial issues like the composition of the Union Cabinet," the Indian chapter of the commission said in a statement here in an apparent reference to the Niira Radia tapes.

The SAMC is a media watchdog representing South Asian countries and consists of not more than seven members from each country of the region and a coordinator of the South Asian Free Media Association (SAFMA).

Its national commission, in each country of South Asia, is formed in consultation with all media organisations, leading media personalities, human and woman rights bodies who agree with SAMC's objectives.

Arguing that the incident dealt a severe blow to the credibility of media as a whole, it recommended asking the journalists figuring in the tapes to acknowledge that they have crossed the line and express their regrets.

The members of the commission felt that there is currently an ethical vacuum in the profession and suggested measures to address it including newspapers and other media organisations making known their ownership patterns and balance-sheets and media persons disclosing their assets annually.

They also asked for the Press Council of India to be given more teeth and strengthening of the anti-defamation law.

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