Should the Press Council govern TV and Internet?


MUMBAI: Is there a need to create a Media Council of India? We already have the Broadcast Complaints Council of India (BCCI) and the News Broadcasters Association and the Broadcast Editors Association (BEA) which act as the conscience keepers of the entertainment channels and of the news broadcasters respectively.
But CK Prasad chief of the nearly 50 year old Press Council of India  (PCI) believes its ambit needs to be extended to cover television and the internet.
Speaking on the occasion of National Press Day the retired chief justice today said  “It is necessary for society and government to recognise that the noble objectives behind setting up the Council can never fully be realised if its activities are restricted to the print media…. the Council as a body made up of different groups of informed stakeholders, is best placed to play such a regulatory role.”
He added that suggestions to give the PCI more teeth have been made in the past but it has not been followed up with legislative changes. “It must possess the powers to tackle aberrations by the press to ensure that members maintain the highest professional standards. In the absence of such powers, the Council is forced to act more on the basis of moral persuasion than legal persuasion.”
“Our democracy and our media have evolved significantly… legislation has kept pace with developments in other areas vital for the functioning of our democracy such as electoral reforms, attempts to update the Press Council Act to bring it in tune with contemporary realities have until now only been academic exercises,” he pointed out.
He stated that the PCI gets its funding through private sources as annual subscriptions from registered newspaper organisations and as grants from government. This needs to be relooked at. The government’s share of this needs to go down while the print media’s share needs to go up to ensure its autonomy in a new media dynamic.

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