The Government is keen to give more power to the Press Council of India (PCI) Act before the Lok Sabha elections in 2014. The Naresh Chandra Committee, which is looking into the entire scenario of strategic communication in the context of national security, has given its recommendations in this regard.
In an earlier conversation with exchange4media, Manish Tewari, Minister of Information and Broadcasting, had said, “The consultation process is underway. There are a couple of issues which require consideration and consultation with stakeholders. We will try and see how we can put them in an institutional framework of the Constitution so that at least the stakeholders’ part of the process gets completed by the time a new government is in place in 2014.”
As is known, in March this year, the Government had stated that it is keen to give more teeth to the media watchdog Press Council of India. The idea was to amend the PCI Act to empower it to suspend accreditation of a journalist, editor and registration of a publication, besides advertisements, if they abuse their independence.
While responding to a resolution made by a member in the Rajya Sabha in March, Tewari had said “The Government is considering amendment in the Press Council of India Act.”
Tewari had also said that the PCI has been asking for more powers as it feels that it should become a media council. However, there are other stakeholders who have alternative view points.
The matter came into prominence when PCI Chairman Justice Markandey Katju sought more teeth for the regulatory body in December last year. Katju had suggested that a legislation should be introduced in Parliament, which would give the Council more power and expansion over the electronic media.
As of now, the only power conferred on the Press Council of India under Section 14(1) of the Act is to ‘warn, admonish or censure the newspaper, news agency, editor or journalist’.