The two-day workshop on ‘Comparative Perspective on Media Regulation and Society’ got underway in Delhi on December 14, 2010. The first day of the workshop explored international and comparative perspectives on media regulation as it affects current debates and future role of information in society. The first session of the day delved upon the topic of the challenges of implementing self-regulation from the perspective of the Indian Government, industry and academies.
Putting forward the industry’s point of view, JS Verma, former Chief Justice of India and Chairman, News Broadcasting Standard Authority, emphasised on the need for self-regulation for the Indian broadcasting industry. He noted that anything that was self-regulated was more effective and lasting. “The freedom that the Indian Constitution gives to its citizens is subject to reasonable restrictions. The Indian media industry is in a nascent stage and self-regulation can work without outside interferences. The electronic media needs to be more circumspect.”
Putting forward the candid perspective of the Indian Government regarding regulation, Rajiv Takru, Additional Secretary, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, said, “While market forces may or may not be conducive for self regulation, it is the best form of regulation.”
Showing his aversion to the TRP system, Takru said that a sample size of just 8,000 by TAM for measuring TRP could not be appreciated in such a large country like India. He, however, appreciated the role of the National Broadcasting Association (NBA) and suggested, “Regulating bodies should have representation from all sections, including advertisers, broadcasters and civil society. Members of the committees must be independent in work and deed. Members of the body should not be paid members and there should not be a perception that these people are employees of the body. Also, the tenure of these members should be rotational, not permanent.”
He further said, “Self regulation can work up to a point, and when self interests come in, it collapses.”
Speaking on some of the challenges that the industry faces, Sanjay Gupta, COO, Star TV, remarked, “Diversity of the country, fast changing consumer behaviour and an evolving value system are the biggest challenges for the industry. GEC is a biggest industry of the country. There are more than 500 channels in the country and each day GECs produce almost 600 hours of programmes, while 1,000 hours of news content get prepared each day. Interestingly, there is only 600 hours of movie content produced every year.”
Prof. Satish Deshpande of the Delhi School of Economics, Delhi University, commented that the country had become a media saturated society.
The workshop is being 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 is the media partner for this workshop.