“We have become ‘newsy’ people today”
With TV becoming a ‘tamasha’ in its quest for TRPs and to get eyeballs, industry experts wonder whether it is time to rewrite media laws
With 240 channels registered and 115 channels being telecast, “we have become very ‘newsy’ people today,” remarks Ravi Shankar Prasad, BJP General Secretary, political activist, lawyer, and Member of Parliament. With a stable democracy and a media that even politicians know not to mess with, both television news and print media are on a growth curve, notes Prasad.
But at the same time he wonders whether this proliferation is good for the country. As he points out, “TV has become a ‘tamasha’ in its quest for TRPs and to get eyeballs (which bring in the ads); the game is to do anything to get there. TRP management is being done in a fraudulent manner.”
He stressed on laws to be put in place to check this. “However, some laws that we have today are outdated, like the Press and Book Act 1857, where you have to submit a copy of a book to the government; and the Press Council Act 1978 which is basically for print, but not for TV. A nagging question is – how do you address the issue of self regulation?” Prasad asked.
Giving the Government’s point of view in this regard, Salman Khurshid, Minister for Law & Justice, affirms that self regulation is something that I&B Minister Ambika Soni remains firmly committed to. While there is ample scope for self regulation, Khurshid believes that the measures currently in place are inadequate. He stressed on the need to have a collaborative approach to governance.
On the other hand, social media has a whole new landscape and the government has little understanding of how to use this. According Khurshid, there is need to seriously implement defamation laws in the country as “there’s an issue with the criminal aspect of defamation”.
Prasad also called all parties to address the issue of ‘paid news’ since till now there has been no positive outcome. “This must be addressed by legal mechanism,” he insists. Calling ‘paid news’ the “new whipping boy”, Khurshid feels that is need for a market solution to this issue.
He added, “Disclosure is an element we are not factoring in on what kind of market monitoring we are doing. In every walk of life we must provide for the honest mistakes editors, journalists and judges commit. The right to make an honest mistake must be a right.”
Salman Khurshid and Ravi Shankar Prasad were deliberating on the topic of ‘Do Media Laws Need to be Rewritten?’. Rajdeep Sardesai, Editor, IBN18 Network, was the moderator. The deliberations were part of the seminar on ‘Challenges Facing Media’, organised by the Editors’ Guild of India in New Delhi on July 6, 2012.
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