अख़बार की दुनिया मे बेबाक़ी का सबसे बड़ा कलेजा

【 RNI-HIN/2013/51580 】
【 RNI-MPHIN/2009/31101 】


Self-regulation by electronic media proved to be ineffective, regulatory authority needed for the same: Supreme Court

30 Apr 2023

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Delhi: Self-regulation by electronic media has proved to be ineffective and a regulatory authority is needed for the same, Supreme Court judge Justice BV Nagarathna said on Saturday.

She said that such a body should not be to stifle the press but to entertain complaints against media.

"There is the Press Council of India to regulate newspapers but for news channels there is self regulation and self regulation is not an adequate solution as it binds only those who are willingly a part of such regulation," the top court judge said.

There should be a regulation to enter complaints against such media entities and such a regulatory body should not become a means to exercise control over the body of the press, she added.

She was speaking on the topic 'A free and balanced press: sentinel of democracy' as the chief guest at the Business Standard Seema Nazareth Awards.

In her speech, she gave two reasons why self-regulation has not worked.

"First, because self-regulation binds only those broadcasters who are willing to be a part of the Association or submit to its jurisdiction. Enforceability has become a challenge for self-regulatory bodies. The second challenge stems from the fact that evolving technologies have enabled anyone to write and share content which is accessible by millions..." said Justice Nagarathna.

Hence, there needs to be some form of regulation which binds this form of new age ‘journalism’ as well, she underscored.

Importantly, she said that playing a devil's advocate to the government should not become the sole aim of the press and that it must be focused on constructive criticism.

"While it is important that a democratic atmosphere is fostered where the press is capable of discussing and even critiquing government policy or action, “attacking” the government and constantly playing devil’s advocate for the mere sake of it, must not become the singular objective of a free press. A free press must neither be a an ally or an adversary but a constructive critic," said Justice Nagarathna.

Pertinently, Justice Nagarathna also flagged the dangers of fake news, yellow journalism and fear mongering by media.

"Fear mongering and gossip mongering as tactics to engage readers in their content, is another practice that is to be shunned. It is the collective responsibility of journalists as well as other stakeholders to weed out any element of bias or prejudice in the process of reporting events. Fake news can misguide millions of people at once, and this will be in direct contradiction with the fundamentals of democracy which forms the bedrock of our existence. Amidst this deluge of what is packaged as news by scores of 24 hour channels beamed though a TV to our homes every day, perspectives are distorted and sense of proportion, lost at times," she said.

In this context, she also underlined the importance of journalists giving context while quoting people.

"Journalists must give complete context while quoting people from public life. Mixing of politics with journalism is detrimental to the idea of free speech and if media has to enjoy the trust of the public it must resist all temptations to mix the two," she stated.

Justice Nagarathna further stated that even though journalists and press have to break down complex information, such simplification must go hand in hand in maintaining accuracy.

"The vibrancy, heterogeneity and plurality of any democracy is compromised when the press is prevented from performing this task, with all objectivity...The press must remain free if a country is to remain a democracy, in the truest sense...," she opined.

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