Government says media council may not be desirable; parliamentary panel makes fresh push

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A view of Parliament House in New Delhi | PTI

New Delhi: The government has told a parliamentary committee that it "may not be desirable" to set up a unified media council as each media platform was unique and distinctive in its own way with a self-regulatory mechanism, prompting the panel to make a fresh push for such a framework with statutory powers to enforce advisories.

The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Communications and Information Technology, chaired by Shiv Sena member Pratap Jadhav, had suggested to the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting to have a media council, contending that there were limitations in enforcement of advisories issued by the Press Council of India and News Broadcasting Standards Authority.

In an action-taken report on the subject 'Ethical Standards in Media Coverage', the committee said it had opined that the ministry should explore the possibility of establishing a media council encompassing print, electronic and digital media which should be equipped with statutory powers to enforce its orders where required.

The committee noted that the ministry had informed it that there were separate regulatory mechanisms for different media platforms.

"... Each platform is unique and distinctive in its own way and therefore unifying and merging them under one regulatory framework may not be desirable," the committee said, citing the submission made by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting.

"However, in light of the rising need for inter-sectoral coordination due to emergence and convergence of new technologies, the committee would like to reiterate and recommend the ministry to explore the possibilities for having unified Media Commission/Body/Council with separate wings and regulatory mechanism for print/electronic/digital media," the committee said.

It said such a framework can have a holistic view of the media and ensure inter-media parity in handling the similar cases of unethical media coverage.

The committee pointed out that the Press Council of India too had sent a proposal to the ministry regarding the constitution of a media council encompassing various media platforms.

It recommended to the government to ensure that all private television channels were part of a self-regulatory body.

It noted that out of 926 private channels, 309 channels were members of Broadcasting Content Complaints Council, while 41 channels were members of News Broadcasters Federation - Professional News Broadcasting Standards Authority (NBF-PNBSA). It noted that 576 television channels were not members of any self regulating body.


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