Why can't mediamen be made accountable: Patil

He advocates control over news channels

He was speaking at the seminar ‘Media and Human Rights’ organised at the Karnatak Law College here on Saturday. In recent times, the functioning of the news channels has not only caused serious damage to society, but has also violated human rights. “Laws to regulate the functioning of the channels help a lot under the present circumstances,” he said.

“Media people always speak about the accountability of others. Why should they also not be made accountable” he questioned and said there was no harm in making the media function in a legal framework.

Patil pointed out that barring a majority of the newspapers, the news channels were laying undue emphasis on sex, crime, sensationalisation of issues, personal matters of individuals, with scant regard to the implications on society.

“The freedom of press has been gravely misused by a section of the media, especially the news channels. This freedom has turned out to be the Bhasmasura and Lord Krishna should come in the form of legal regulations to eliminate this Bhasmasura. It is high time to put a brake on the trend of breaking news that does more harm to society than benefit,” he said.

Tremendous growth

Patil pointed out that media had witnessed tremendous growth in terms of technology.

The news transmission has become so fast that we can get updates in any corner of the world within minutes, he added. The electronic media is more powerful, its reach pervasive and its impact on society deeper. But reporters of these news channels lack knowledge of the law, professionalism and ethics. Once the damage is done, it is not possible to rectify it by means of corrigendum or apology, he said and cited many instances where the role of electronic media led to the violation of human rights.

Adverse trends

Karnataka High Court Judge Justice H N Nagamohan Das said the Indian media developed alongside the country’s freedom movement and the role of the journalists in achieving freedom and social reformation was most valuable. However, the commercialisation of the media in the late 1990s had paved the way for many adverse trends like the sensationalisation of issues and paid news concept.

He said media should have the freedom to criticise the functioning of all, including the judiciary. But the criticism should be objective, well-researched and it should be against the institution and not the individual, he said.

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