Self-regulation has to come from within

NEW DELHI: The government should restrict itself to penalising inaccuracies in reportage while allowing the television news industry to regulate itself, senior journalists said here today.

India’s news channels, which had faltered in the Mumbai terror coverage, have worked out stronger internal checks and that seems to be working.

Speaking at the fourth Indian News Television (NT) Summit here today, MCCS editor Shazi Zaman said that the only way to protect the freedom of the media is self-regulation and that has to come from within. "Neither an organisation nor an editor can impose self-regulation; it is something that everyone has to practice."

Commercial considerations, however, have forced news channels to have a high-quotient of entertainment and trivial content.  
  “In primetime, news channels have an equal proportion of entertainment and political content. Sports takes up 15 per cent of the primetime space, while issues related to agriculture and development stories get less than a five per cent share,” said CMS director PN Vasanti, who was moderating the session on “Making an Impression”.

Even staying objective is an arduous task. TV Today Network news director QW Naqvi quoted examples of how all the news channels aired stories on “Delhi getting drowned with floods” which was far beyond the scope of objectivity.

Naqvi said that with the mushrooming of news channels, quality has taken a hit.
“With the increase in quantity, the quality has gone down,” he rued.

NewsX co-promoter and Editor-in-Chief Jehangir S Pocha, however, disagreed. “The Indian media industry needs enough media so that viewers have options and there is no cartelisation. What is needed on the other hand, is stringent laws that can penalise those who disseminate inaccurate information.”

CNN IBN managing editor Vinay Tewari emphasized on the need to rigorously train the new crop of reporters and journalists.

The time has arrived for the industry to go back to the basics. “While dealing with serious issues, there is sometimes fear and mistrust, even in legitimate cases,” said Tewari.

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