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Govt initiates discussions on media laws, releases Consultation Paper

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Govt initiates discussions on media laws, releases Consultation Paper

The Government of India has issued a Consultation Paper in order to discuss media laws with the stakeholders. The paper highlights several issues and asks media owners to share their opinions based on the Consultation Paper.

The Consultation Paper raises some select concerns and poses a set of questions that will help foster a larger public debate amongst stakeholders and the citizenry to shape the approach which should be adopted in tackling these issues.

One of the main issues with regard to media regulation has been the question of the nature of regulatory authorities. This has led to proposals for a Broadcasting Regulatory Authority of India. In 2007, a Consultation Paper by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting sought views from stakeholders on the proposed draft of the Broadcasting Services Regulation Bill. The proposed draft of the Bill is available on the website of the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting. The PCI, in 2012, also recommended that electronic and social media be brought within its regulatory framework and the institution renamed Media Council.

The consultation paper raises different questions related to self-regulation in this context:

·       Do the existing self-regulation mechanisms require strengthening? If so, how can they be strengthened?

·       In the alternative should a statutory regulator be contemplated? If so, how can the independence of such regulator are guaranteed?

·       Should any such change be uniform across all types of media or should regulators be medium specific?

The paper highlights different important issues that the Government deals with on a regular basis. These include paid news, opinion polls, cross media ownership, media and individual privacy, trial by media and rights of the accused, publications and contempt of Court, defamation, social media and Section 66A of the Information Technology Act, 2000, and Regulations surrounding Government-owned media, among others.

The Government has asked media players to submit their suggestions/ comments to the Law Commission of India within 30 days of issuing of the Consultation Paper. 

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