17 November 2017
Self-regulation is not working and there is growing need for a single watchdog for the television and print media, Vice-President Venkaiah Naidu said on Thursday.He was addressing the valedictory of the golden jubilee celebrations of the Press Council of India on National Press Day.“If there is self-regulation where is the need to go to the doctor? Press Council of India is only for print. There is need for a single watchdog body for both print and television media,” he said. He, however, added that “regulation should not become strangulation.
”The watchdog was necessary to ensure that political and business interests of the owners of media houses did not affect news, he said. “News is increasingly coloured with views that are consistent with the agenda of the management.” A single watchdog has been a long-standing plan of the NDA government.
Now, the Press Council of India oversees print and the News Broadcasters Association of India looks after TV channels. In the illustrious history of Indian journalism, Emergency was an aberration, he said. “Barring a few honourable exceptions, the press behaved like a handmaiden of the government.”‘Credibility affected’Berating the media, the Vice-President said, “Credibility is becoming a rare commodity.
One does not know what to believe. Reporting on same event one newspaper declares there was massive gathering while another carries pictures of empty chairs,”
Mr. Naidu said.For a democracy to thrive, Mr. Naidu said, free flow of information was essential. “Democracy needs information and dissent but it does not mean disintegration.” There was an urgent need to carry the alternative views too. Before taking over as the Vice-President, Mr. Naidu was the Information and Broadcasting Minister.Information and Broadcasting Minister Smriti Irani, in a crisp address, said upholding press freedom was the responsibility of every government.
“Voices of media shouldn’t be suppressed and constitutionally it is our responsibility to ensure that media has the freedom to speak, even if politically I may not agree with these voices,” she said.