DELHI: The Press Council of India (PCI) has again urged the
Union Government to bring all media, including the electronic
and social media, under its purview.
The PCI said it had asked the Information and Broadcasting
Ministry to carry out necessary amendments in this regard.
The PCI said that experience had shown that "the claim
of the broadcast media for self-regulation is futile and meaningless,
because self-regulation is an oxymoron."
PCI referred to recent incidents where social networking sites
were used to spread rumours that triggered exodus of people
belonging to north-eastern states to justify its demand for
widening its area of operation and said there should not be
any "dilly-dallying" in the matter by the Government.
The statement said the PCI had resolved that the "Government
of India be requested to initiate suitable legislation to
amend the Press Council Act, 1978, by bringing the electronic
media (both broadcast and social media) within the purview
of the Press Council Act, and renaming it as The Media Council."
The PCI also sought more powers for itself, the statement
said, adding that it had passed a resolution to this effect
at a meeting in the capital. "Journalistic ethics apply
not only to the print media but also to the electronic media,
and hence there is no reason why electronic media be not regulated
by a statutory body, when the print media is regulated,"
PCI Chairperson Justice Markanday Katju has in the past also
expressed views that the electronic media should be under
the purview of the council.
The PCI also gave reasons for passing the resolution to include
the electronic and the social media within its ambit. "When
the Press Council Act was enacted, there was no electronic
media, and hence there was no need for any legislation for
regulating the electronic media. Subsequently, the electronic
media has come into existence. Journalistic ethics apply not
only to the print media but also to the electronic media,"
social activity has to be regulated. Regulation is different
from control. In control, there is no freedom, while in regulation,
there is freedom but it is subject to reasonable restrictions
in the public interest," the PCI statement said.
The Press Council also said that it was in favour of only
regulation and not control, and that this regulation should
be by an independent statutory authority like the Press Council
of India and not the government.
The Council said that it presently has 28 members (apart from
the Chairman), of which 20 are representatives of the Press.
These 20 members are not appointed by the government but elected
by press bodies. All important decisions are taken by majority
vote. If the electronic media is also brought under the Press
Council (to be named The Media Council), the electronic media
will also have their representatives in the Council,"
it said in its statement.
"In recent times, experience has shown that the unregulated
electronic media is playing havoc with the lives of the people.
An example is what happened to the people of North-East,"
the PCI statement said.
"Hence, the Press Council resolved that now the time
has come when there should not be any dilly-dallying in the
matter by the Government, and the amendments to the Press
Council Act, as proposed above, should be made forthwith,"
the PCI said.