How Panchkula violence coverage became a talking point between Smriti Irani and IBF

The meeting presided over by Irani on August 25 was also attended by IBF President Punit Goenka and Secretary General Girish Srivastava

e4m by Saif Ahmad Khan
Published: Aug 30, 2017 7:58 AM  | 3 min read

Union Information & Broadcasting Minister Smriti Irani was in a meeting with members of the Indian Broadcasting Foundation when the violence in Panchkula broke out last Friday. The IBF delegation, which included Punit Goenka, Rajat Sharma and Girish Srivastava, was described as a “courtesy call” by a source who attended the meeting. As the supporters of Gurmeet Singh resorted to torching vehicles and attacking media personnel after the trial court held him guilty of rape, visuals of the commotion descending upon Panchkula came beaming on the television monitors present in the I&B Minister’s room. 


Hence, the coverage of the Panchkula violence also became a talking point during the conversation though it was not part of the agenda. “It was before our eyes on the television screens,” said a source, when asked about the reason behind the discussion. It must be recalled that some of the executives serving on the IBF’s board also have stakes in the news broadcast domain and are members of the News Broadcasters Association. On the same day, Irani had also sent out a tweet drawing attention towards the self-regulatory guidelines of News Broadcasting Standards Authority which mandates news channels to exercise restraint while reporting on incidents of violence.


Irani, who was recently given the additional charge of the I&B Ministry after M Venkaiah Naidu was chosen by the Bharatiya Janata Party to be its Vice Presidential candidate, faces quite an uphill task in the ministry. While the media and entertainment sector is often marred with disputes resulting into litigations, a notable example of which is the resistance to the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India’s tariff order, several sections of the industry are still grappling with after-effects of the GST implementation. exchange4media had earlier reported that the Association of Indian Magazines has asked for the rollback of 12% GST levied on lightweight coated paper (LWC).


Although the final decision in this regard will be taken by the GST Council, magazine publishers are hoping that their case will be recommended by the I&B Ministry. exchange4media is informed that magazine publishers are seeking an audience with Irani on this issue despite uncertainty regarding her retaining the portfolio in the forthcoming cabinet reshuffle. About two weeks back, a delegation of Indian Newspaper Society also met with government officials urging them to reconsider the high tax rate levied on LWC. 


Though sections of the print media had lobbied for the revocation of 5% GST on print advertisements, the possibility of GST being imposed on LWC “slipped everybody’s mind” initially, a source informed. “Even when the tax on newsprint was proposed, we didn’t think about (the additional tax) on LWC.” Besides I&B Secretary NK Sinha, with whom publishers have reportedly touched base, the recommendation of Central Board of Excise and Customs’ Joint Secretary L Satya Srinivasa could also help the cause of publishers in revoking or reducing the tax on LWC.  

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