Ramesh Kumar to head panel to rein in media

Rayareddy says no need for such committee

Ramesh Kumar to head  panel to rein in media

 Health Minister K R Ramesh Kumar will head a joint House Committee constituted to rein in the media, Legislative Assembly Speaker K B Koliwad announced on Tuesday.

Koliwad said the panel will have 10 members from the Assembly and three from the Legislative Council.

Last week, legislators cutting across party lines had come down heavily on the media. They had charged the media, both print and visual, with blackmail, extortion, character assassination and misleading society. Koliwad had then announced that a House committee will be constituted to rein in what he called “irresponsible” and “arbitrary” media.

The other members from the Assembly in the panel are Ashok Pattan, B R Yavagal, N A Haris, Shivaraj Thangdagi, S T Somashekar (all Congress), Bharamagouda Kage, Suresh Gowda (both BJP), S R Mahesh and K C Narayana Gowda (JD-S). Interestingly these are the members who had spoken vociferously against the media during the discussion.

The panel will decide on its frames of reference at its first meeting. Legislative Council chairman D H Shankarmurthy said he will appoint three MLCs after consulting leaders of all the parties. Leader of the Opposition K S Eshwarappa said the BJP would not like to be part of the committee.

Rayareddy against panel

Earlier, Higher Education Minister Basavaraj Rayareddy has appealed to  Koliwad not to go ahead with the constitution of a House committee to rein in the media on the grounds that it is  ‘irresponsible’ and ‘arbitrary’.

Rayareddy, on the day the Assembly witnessed a heated debate on how the media is doing baseless reporting and humiliating politicians, had said that at any cost there should be no restrictions on the media. However, he was the lone MLA to speak on those lines.

In his letter to Koliwad, the minister said there is no provision under the Constitution to curtail the freedom of press except during rare situations such as the Emergency. At the same time, he said, he could understand the anger, helplessness and pain suffered by the legislators because of baseless media reports.

However, the minister said he is of the view that cordial relations should be maintained between politicians and the media in a democratic setup. Values are declining in public life, and even the media is not an exception to this. But a majority of the journalists, newspapers and television channels have been upholding the values of their profession. Complaints can be lodged with the Press Council of India if media houses publish or telecast baseless reports, Rayareddy said.

Rayareddy suggested that the Speaker hold dialogues and discussions with senior journalists to encourage adopting self restrictions through a code of conduct . In addition, a meeting could also be held with heads of media houses to draw guidelines pertaining to the usage of language.

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