The free run now enjoyed by the electronic media with the absence
of a regulator and a conduct code has now become a serious issue . In some
parts of the country ,it
has even lead to serious law and order problems. The mob violence happened
in Central Delhi triggered by a fake T.V sting operation is the latest
example for it.
Now a days with the advent of so many Private Television
channels fighting for the advertisement pie and for maximum eye balls, the
standard of journalism practiced now by the private broadcasters arises so
many questions and doubts .Recently in a roundtable on the Broadcast Bill,
organised in connection with the 45th State conference of the Kerala Union
of Working Journalists (KUWJ). Chief of bureau of a leading daily from
Kerala, John Mundakkayam pointed out that the fast erosion of visual media’s
credibility is a threat to the print media as well.
From the part of the government I&B Ministry has come up
with the Broadcasting Bill and a content code to be tabled in the monsoon
section of the parliament, But later postponed due to stiff resistance from
The very unfortunate part of this story is that ,initially
the private broadcasters were not even ready to respond to the content code
as desired by the I&B ministry. In fact the arrogant attitude of the private
broadcasters indicate the fact the private broadcasters are not even ready
concede to the fact that the government has the legal authority to
introduce such a Bill and content code to regulate the broadcast media.
But the Hon'ble Supreme Court landmark judgment of 1995
pertaining to the broadcast media, Clearly gives the government the
legitimate right to introduce such a regulation. It has not only the
legal right but also the moral responsibility to introduce such a bill
considering the various conditions prevailing in India. That is the reason
the Hon'ble Delhi High court ,asked the government that why no FIR filed
against the T.V channel and no action taken against the T.V channel in
recent fake T.V sting operation.
The proposed bill and the content may not be perfect in
all ways. Even the I&B minister will not claim that, it is perfect in all
ways. Other wise I&B ministry may not have invited the stake holders opinion
in this matter.
It is alleged that some of the provisions in the bill
can be misused to muzzle the broadcast media. So many reputed journalists
and organisations observed it. The Editors Guild of India (a respectable
body doing a decent job relating to news papers) rejected the proposed
'Content Code' saying it gave government "enormous power to shift goalpost"
when it liked.
But everybody forgotten the fact
that" 2007 is totally different from 1977 in all aspects.
There is no reason to explain it, everybody
knows it .(the politicians and bureaucrats also). There is a clear example
for it, consider the cause of "LIVE INDIA " Channel (which
telecasted the fake sting leading to a law and order problem in central
Delhi and arrest of a Delhi school teacher,) which has now been banned for
one month with immediate effect from Sept 20, 2007
The ban has been imposed in terms of
the Sub-Section (2) of Section 20 of the Cable Television Networks
(Regulation) Act 1995. The Act is clear that ‘no person shall transmit or
re-transmit through a cable service any programme unless such programme is
in conformity with the prescribed programme code’.
is ironical that I & B minister Das Munshi has backtracked on the
Content Code without holding broadcasters to a firm timeline on
coming up with a code of their own. Had he done so, public opinion
would have been
20 (2) of the Act says the government may regulate or prohibit the
transmission or re-transmission of any channel or programme ‘Where the
Central Government thinks it necessary or expedient so to do in the interest
of the (i) sovereignty or integrity of India; or (ii) security of India; or
(iii) friendly relations of India with any foreign State; or (iv) public
order, decency or morality."
The I&B Ministry issued a show cause notice on 11 September asking the
channel to respond within three days.
case the central government not intervened immediately or suo moto. The I&B
Ministry issued the showcase notice on 11 September only after the
Hon'ble Delhi High Court taken suo motu notice of the case on 7 September
and had issued notice to the Government and the Police. Court asked the
government If offence is committed, you have to register a case and start
There is one more thing that
everybody forgotten or pretends to forgot ,that is the the fact
that in today's globalisation era ,the real threat to the media
is not political in nature ,But from the very market forces for
which now most of our media
above incident clearly illustrates that if government wishes , it can very
well muzzle the electronic media even now, with the existing provisions in
the Section 20 (2) of the Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Act 1995.
But the government not did any thing till the intervention of the Hon'ble
Delhi High Court .In fact the governments of past and present ,after
1990s played only a passive role in matters related to media, especially
with electronic media its in . Now the government have almost dropped the
idea of the content code and have agreed for self regulating code by
broadcasters itself. The Broadcast Regulatory Services
Bill for establishing a regulator for the broadcasting industry in the
country appears to have been put on the back-burner, at least for this year.
Such is the power and influence, our media enjoys in our society
today , definitely a positive thing as long as they are in the right track
. So the argument that the intention of the government is not good in trying
to introduce such a content code is questionable and doesn't have
credibility considering the conditions existing in India.
It is ironical that I & B minister Das Munshi has
backtracked on the Content Code without holding broadcasters to a firm
timeline on coming up with a code of their own. Had he done so, public
opinion would have been on his side. In a poll on the same night that he met
the broadcasters, 86 per cent of those polled on a leading English news
channel, said that there should be a code for sting operations.
There is one more thing that everybody forgotten or
pretends to forgot ,that is the the fact that in today's pre globalisation
era ,the real threat to the media with its ethics is not political in
nature ,But from the very market forces for which now most of our media
It is very pathetic that, very few organisations
and journalists like P Sainath (2007 Magsaysay award winner) raising their
voices against the invasion of markets on the media in general and visual
media in particular.