'Media Council need of hour'

PCI chief M Katju to hold public debate on the issue in Delhi soon

'Media Council need of hour'

Former Supreme Court Judge and Press Council of India Chairman Markandey Katju on Wednesday, strongly advocated the need to constitute a media council that would replace press council and regulate the activities of both the print as well as electronic media.

Speaking to media persons here on Wednesday, Katju said that he has already submitted a representation to the Prime Minister asking for the amendment of Press Council Act and give the power of punitive punishment to the Press Council.

“Discussions will be held on my proposal at New Delhi, in the coming days, where all kind of opinions will be considered,” he said.

The proposed media council should have 48 members as against 28 members in the Press Council of India. Of the 48 members, 40 members should be representatives of the media (20 from print and 20 from broadcast).

The council should be given the power to punish the media that violates the media’s code of conduct and the punishment could be in the form of suspending licence in the case of repeated violations, he said.

“In a democracy, every body should be regulated, be it media or any other organisation. The media freedom should be coupled with reasonable restrictions which is common to all the professions.

The media must enjoy the freedom to report, but at the same time it should restrain itself from losing accountability. As the Chairman of PCI, I support the reasonable regulation on media, but not the control of media,” Katju said.

Emphasising the role of media at a time when India is passing through a transition period from feudal agricultural society to that of modern industrial society, he said the media should be pro-people at this juncture as they are undergoing a very painful period. “At this point of time, role of idea, accompanied by the role of media becomes significant,” the PCI Chairman opined.

Regretting that 90 per cent of people in India believe in Astrology, he appealed the members of the public to use common sense, develop scientific temper and to be rational.

At the same time, he also flayed the television channels and publications which air/write on Dooms Day. “The Dooms Day is nothing but nonsense,” he said and added that such programmes should not be allowed to aired/telecast.

To a query on journalist Naveen Soorinje who has been arrested over homestay attack case, Justice Katju re-iterated that he would not comment on the issue as it would be sub-judice.

On the other hand, he said that he has already issued notices to Karnataka as well as Maharashtra government to uphold the freedom of media.

Press Council of India member Rajiv Ranjan Nag was present.

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