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I&B Ministry readies draft Media Council Act

06-April-2001
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I&B Ministry readies draft Media Council Act

The Information and Broadcasting Ministry has made a draft to set up a Media Council, which will replace the existing Press Council. The I&B Ministry has also forwarded the draft to Law Ministry for vetting it. So far, the Press Council has been a watchdog only for the print media. However, following tehelka.com using spy cameras to investigate into the country’s defence deals, questions were raised in various circles regarding the ethic of journalism. It was then that the government decided to form a body which would oversee the workings of the entire media including television channels and dotcoms.

Once it is vetted by the Law Ministry, the draft will be placed before Parliament for enacting the Media Council Act. The Media Council Act will replace the existing Press Council Act, 1978.

According to the draft for setting up the Media Council, it is an Act “for the purpose of preserving the freedom of the media and of maintaining and improving its standards”. The council will consist of a chairman and 30 other members. This against the existing Press Council consisting of a chairman and 28 other members.

In the new Media Council, the chairman should be a former judge of the Supreme Court, nominated by a committee consisting of the Rajya Sabha chairman, the Lok Sabha Speaker and the Chief Justice of India. Of the other members, 10 should be working journalists, five will be editors of newspapers and the remaining five will be working journalists other than editors. And, four members of the Council should be from the electronic media.

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