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Independence day - some Independent media thoughts
Media plays a huge role in our lives. Media shapes our opinions, our values and our beliefs. It reflect and influence our culture .As such, they play a vital role in our democracy, shaping citizens, understanding of social and political issues and functioning as gatekeepers through which issues, people, and events must pass. No matter what you care about the media influence, the perceptions of citizens and policymakers, affecting the policies that touch us all. The media has played a traditional role in the working of democracies.
Media must not be considered just another business: They are special institutions in our society. Information is the lifeblood of democracy and when viewpoints are cut off and ideas cannot find an outlet, the democracy is in danger
Democracy begins with citizens. There can be no real democracy without citizens who are reasonably well informed. Information and communication are integral to democracy. Accordingly (By the same token) the democratization of communication and information sectors are a pre requisite of democracy.
In the one of the latest episode , in 2007, the most respected business news source in the world the “Wall Street Journal” acquired by the media emperor Rupert Murdock. With this the media consolidation in the US become much stronger. The Wall Street Journal is considered as impartial news paper which shown impartial views on business and economic news.
The Wall Street Journal has great credibility among the US people and many considered the news in it as authentic. For Rupert Murdock who has only commercial and business interest it was very essential to own and control it. For so many months he was trying gain control over Wall Street Journal. The emotional approach by some members of the Bancroft family who owns Wall Street Journal was the only obstacle for the delay. Finally financial factors overcame emotional factors and Murdock gained the ownership. Rupert Murdock’s news corporation is the world’s largest media monopoly in the world. All over the world it has more than hundred newspapers
In India it has star network. Intact he is trying to enforce the political and economical agenda of the capitalist forces by controlling the medias of different characters and categories. In today globalised world media is one of the sector where maximum take over and swallowing is happening.
America’s public broadcasting system receives very limited support from federal appropriations. Even though More Americans trust public broadcasting than any corporate news media In 2005, Congress tried to slash $100 million in funding for public broadcasting, but it was reinstated after a backlash by millions of viewers across the country.
In 2006, the administration proposed to cut $157 million, reducing the Federal financial support of public broadcasting by almost 30 percent. Through hundreds of thousands of calls and e-mails, the public again pressured Congress to restore full funding.
In February 2007, the Bush administration proposed crippling cuts in the Federal funding for public broadcasting. Bush’s budget would slash funding by nearly 25 percent.
The Association for Public Television Stations (APTS) responded to last Year’s cuts by saying, “Rather than embrace the overwhelming, bipartisan majority who supported public broadcasting a few months ago, the Administration is charging ahead in laying the foundation for the elimination Of public broadcasting in America.”
If it happened in American society where awareness about the significance of non corporate media and public service broadcasting is very strong and so many organizations are fighting against the consolidation of media and the dangers of monopoly media what can happen in a country like India where majority of the population is not all aware about the dangers of monopoly media, consolidation of media and not aware about the significance of public service broadcasting?
Monopoly corporate forces (both from India and abroad) already started their activities in media sector in India.
The government of India has come with a broadcasting Service regulation bill, which was supposed to be tabled during the monsoon section of the parliament ,and postponed at the last moment due to stiff opposition from broadcasters, had some provisions (even though not sufficient) to prevent media monopoly and media consolidation. “There are three types of restrictions on accumulation of interest in the media. these are restrictions on (a) Cross media ownership among different segments of media such as print / television / radio. (b) Consolidation including ‘vertical integration ‘ Within a media segment such as television or radio
(c) Market share in each city /state / country within each media segment”
More than any thing else it is this aspect that will be extensively lobbied for dilution and changes by the powerful and highly influential media houses in the country.
If print media history provides any clue and considering the opposition to this provision even from print media, maximum dilution can be expected in the final bill, if it comes to the parliaments table again.
In India the very fundamentals of public service broadcaster and National broadcaster is also under threat by the corporate market forces and by the lack of sufficient funding by the government.
For a democracy to function independently and effectively the media independent from government and not influenced and controlled by monopoly corporate forces and greedy capitalist forces are essential. So the government should not dilute the provisions in the Broadcast Service Regulation Bill, against the media consolidation and the media monopoly .
At the same time Government should completely support and fund the National Broadcaster cum Public Service Broadcaster PRASAR BHARATI to enable it to become a true public service broadcaster which is independent of corporate market forces.
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