The Minister of Finance, Corporate Affairs and Information and Broadcasting (I&B), Arun Jaitley, said the days of bans on media were over and technology had rendered censorship impossible.
He was speaking on the ‘Freedom and Responsibility of Media’ at the first Justice JS Verma Memorial Lecture in New Delhi on Sunday. The Broadcasters’ Association of India had organised the event. Jaitley recalled Justice Verma’s contribution in the domains of human rights, gender equality, probity and media freedom.
Jaitley said in the past two decades, the conventional contours of issues pertaining to the freedom and responsibility of media had changed due to changes in the nature and content of media and definition of news.
He added that news telecast on electronic media was being defined by what the camera could capture. In the current paradigm, technology had become a driving force for these changes. The impact of technology was profound as information dissemination was taking place 24x7 across different technological tools and media platforms, including the digital space.
Jaitley added that technological developments had defied the contours of censorship and the challenges for media lay within, in the context of ownership patterns, financial sustainability and financial models that lead to aberrations like paid news.
The Minister said the main challenges before the media were to ensure quality and credibility, along with the responsibility to play the role of an educator in handling sensitive issues. The challenge also lay in maintaining high ethical standards on issues of conflict of interest, where media needed to be careful.
Regarding digital media, Jaitley said financial models would evolve as the medium matured. The digital platform also needed to evolve its own standards of responsibility as it had emerged as an alternative platform for the dissemination of information.
The Minister said media’s responsibility was critical in addressing matters related to security, social tension, privacy of an individual and issues that involved a sub-judice connotation. Media needed to avoid the conduct of parallel trials in reporting matters that were sub-judice.
Jaitley said constructive deliberations on all issues related to media’s freedom and responsibility needed to be initiated among all stakeholders.