The second day of the workshop on ‘Comparative Perspective on Media Regulation and Society’, held in Delhi on December 15-16, 2010, saw discussions on the role of media in the society and explored that how broadcast media can best contribute to the Indian society for its betterment.
The session, themed ‘Broadcasting and Society, Potential for the Future’, emphasised on the role of regional media in society. The session was moderated by Monroe Price, University of Pennsylvania. Prof Srirupa Roy, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, remarked that media could not be confined to only national and international stressed on the need to look at the role of regional media too. “English news channels are in the minority in terms of total numbers as well as viewership when compared to Hindi and regional media,” she noted.
Citing an example, Roy explained that from June 2009 to June 2010, the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting had approved 286 channels, and among them majority of channels were regional channels. “Delhi-centric views need to be revived and audience measurement system, too, has to recognise the importance of regional media,” she maintained.
G Krishnan, Vice President, IBF and TV Today Networks Ltd, stated, “Free media has allowed us to give pluralistic view point on everything in India and this has helped India to move from ‘India scarcity to India plenty’.”
He admitted that earlier things were not right, and added, “Stories based on prevailing superstitions in the country must be dealt with.”
Krishnan further said that TRAI was not doing its role properly and was a huge monster that the industry was fighting with. “In the last 10 years, the government was trying hard to regulate us. Why are newspapers not under the scanner of government? Newspapers can price themselves the way they want, why don’t we have that liberty?” he asked.
Meanwhile, speaking on the non-news content, Sevanti Ninan, Editor, The Hoot, noted that commercial media, specially soap-operas, was taking up issues such as child marriage and sexual harassment, which was good for the society. Commenting on radio medium, she said that the government was hesitant in allowing news on regional radio as well as on community radio.
Expressing her concern over women’s portrayal in TV serials, Zohra Chatterjee, former Joint Secretary, MIB and present Member Secretary, National Commission for Women, said that the Ministry was really very concerned about the way women are being portrayed in Indian media. She added, “In India, where sex education is still not available in schools, TV channels shape the perception of the children; hence, broadcasters need to be more cautious. However, we certainly appreciate the role of the media in nurturing the democracy of the country.”
Discussing the ownership pattern of media channels in India, Kiran Karnik, independent strategic consultant and Member of NBSA, stated, “The biggest threat is also that the regional channels are run by political parties. However, when they report something biased, because viewers know about their leanings, they excuse them.”
The two-day workshop was organised by Programme in Comparative Media Law and Policy, University of Oxford, in collaboration with the National University of Juridical Sciences, Kolkata; National Law University, Delhi; and Annenberg School for Communication, University of Pennsylvania. Star TV was the media partner for this workshop.
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