Media needs to be regulated, say senior journalists

Media needs to be regulated, say senior journalists

The media needs regulation, several senior journalists said here Thursday, adding that its proliferation has lowered standards, with news being served instantly.

"The media needs regulation as no freedom is absolute," said B.G. Verghese, former editor of The Indian Express, while participating in a Indian Women Press Corps (IPWC)
panel discussion on the need for self-regulation in the media.

He said the use of latest technology in media and instant delivery of information had left no time for reflection among journalists.

IWPC president Rajlakshmi said the discussion was organised to initiate a debate on the issue in the wake of the Supreme Court framing guidelines for the media and a private member's bill to regulate the media listed in the Lok Sabha by Congress MP Meenakshi Natrajan.

Former Attorney General Soli Sorabjee said the debate should now be on what shape the body to regulate the media should take. "We know the problem...the issue is how do we address it," he said.

He said the Supreme Court had felt the need for guidelines for media to protect the rights of the accused during reportage of criminal cases.

"The media can sometimes tarnish the reputation of a person," he said.
Media commentator Paranjoy Guha Thakurta, too expressed similar views. "Journalists need to discuss self-regulation with the judiciary," he said.

Noting that self-regulation, especially among the electronic medium, had not worked as desired, Rajdeep Sardesai, editor-in-chief of CNN-IBN, said if the media did not discuss self-regulation, the government would impose it in some form or the other.

He said permission to new news channels should be linked to the condition that they become member of the News Broadcasters Standards Authority (NBSA), formed for news channels to self-regulate.

"It is difficult to impose a NBSA decision as some member channels refuse to do so...we fear regulation as many of us do not have the courage to accept a mistake," he said, adding that the media regulator should be an autonomous body.

Stating that media regulation by the government was inevitable, Press Club of India president T.R. Ramachandran said media organisations should gear up to cope up with regulation and work to stem the rot within.

Presenting a contrary view, Press Association general secretary Rajeev Ranjan Nag termed Natrajan's bill as an attempt by the government to test public reaction on a sensitive issue like regulating the media at a time when the government was facing a slew of corruption charges.

"Who will protect the interests of journalists given the pressure they face from their respective managements?" he said.

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