MIB asked to restructure PCI, establish Media Council covering all mediums
The IT committee told MIB that the Media Council must be equipped with statutory powers to enforce its orders where required
The Standing Committee on Communications and Information Technology headed by Congress MP Shashi Tharoor has recommended establishing a Media Council which will cover print, electronic and digital media. It also stated that the self-regulatory body Press Council of India (PCI), which only has jurisdiction over print media, needs to be restructured. In its report titled 'Ethical Standards in Media Coverage', the committee said that the Media Council must be equipped with statutory powers to enforce its orders where required. It is pertinent to note that the PCI has made recommendations to the government to enact single legislation which will cover all forms of media, in line with the Press Council Act, 1978.
"The committee are of the firm opinion that PCI needs restructuring to cover all types of media and therefore desire that the Ministry should explore the possibility of establishing a wider Media Council encompassing not just the print media but the electronic and digital media as well, and equip it with statutory powers to enforce its orders where required," the committee said in its 73-page report.
It observed that PCI, a statutory body governing the print media may entertain complaints and is empowered to warn, admonish or censure the newspaper, the news agency, the editor, or the journalist concerned, however, it does not have the power to enforce compliance as advisories issued by PCI are not enforceable in a Court of Law. It further noted that the News Broadcasting Standard Authority (NBSA) governing news broadcasting has the power to fine, but its jurisdiction extends to only those organisations that choose to be members.
The committee believes that a Media Council covering all forms of media along with statutory powers would "have a holistic view of the media scenario and take appropriate steps to check irregularities, ensure freedom of speech and professionalism, and maintain the highest ethical standards and credibility, which are so critical for the fourth pillar of democracy".
It also stated that there is a need for the Government of India to create a Media Commission comprising experts for wider consultations amongst the interested groups/ stakeholders to evolve a consensus in this regard. The committee has also asked the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (MIB) to look into the possibility of expanding the regulatory framework to monitor e-newspapers.
In its report, the committee has made a number of suggestions on print media, electronic media, TV ratings, and digital/social media. The committee is of the opinion that the term ‘Anti-national attitude’ used in Rule 6(1)(e) of the Cable Network Rules, 2014 may be the cause of unnecessary harassment of the private Channels and therefore recommend that the term 'Anti-national attitude' be properly defined to remove any ambiguity in the interpretation of the term in the prescribed code.
The Rule 6(1)(e) of the Cable Network Rules, 2014 states that “no programme should be carried in the cable service which is likely to encourage or incite violence or contains anything against maintenance of law and order or which promote 'Anti-national attitude'". However, the term ‘Anti-national attitude’ has not been separately defined in the Programme Code enumerated in the CTN Rules, 1994.
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