Freedon & Responsibility of Media

Information and Broadcasting minister Arun Jaitley has asked media to avoid invading privacy of individuals and refrain from running its own trial. The remark on invasion of privacy comes in the wake of the media for being prosecutor, judge and jury in Sunanda Pushkar’s death case.

Jaitley was at Justice J.S Verma memorial delivering his first lecture on ‘Freedom & Responsibilty of Media’ .He said age to add ban on media was over and the technology has made it impossible to impose censorship. Recently, the Home Ministry had asked I & B ministry to make amendments to existing rules so that live coverage of anti terror operations by television channels is banned.

He also said that government is seriously considering introducing norms on media coverage of terror related operations. He said “The manner in which anti-terror operations by security agencies is covered is one of the most important issue with regard to responsibility of media to go right up to the spot or if there should be constraints” The I&B minister said intelligence agencies had claimed that real time coverage of terror attacks of 9/11 in U.S and 26/11 in Mumbai had helped attackers about the location and activities of the security forces. “Our security agencies and the Ministry of Defense are clearly of the view that this cannot be allowed. And, Therefore during the limited duration when the security operation is on, a very strict disciple on the kind of reporting will have to be maintained”.

The minister added had the government will have its own pitfall if it gets into the business of disciplining media organizations and it should be left up to the viewers and readers to decide on that. Speaking on the issue of cross holding in the media, he said there was a need for debate on cross holding in the media.

There are laws in many countries over cross holding rights. “If you own newspapers, you cannot own channels. If you own channel, then you can’t own the medium through which channel is telecast, that is the cable or DTH. We have no such restrictions”. Jaitley said that the pressure of TRP is very high on news channel, but the challenge is of quality and credibility, therefore media should act with responsibility in times of social tension.