Swaraj says no moves to control media

One thing that has been more than amply borne out in the communal conflagration that has engulfed Gujarat is that the government is speaking in different voices on the subject. Rejecting suggestions in the Rajya Sabha (upper house of parliament) that communal riots in Gujarat flared up because of media reports, information and broadcasting minister Sushma Swaraj today asserted the government did not intend to exercise control over the press. Swaraj added the proposed convergence commission would keep an eye on the contents in the print and electronic media.

Responding to supplementaries during Question Hour, Swaraj said the government did not control the press and lauded the Press Council of India for performing the role of a regulator very efficiently, the Press Trust of India reported.

Stating that in situations involving communal flare up there were always diverse opinions on the impact of media reporting, she said the Press Council chairman issued three appeals to the media to ensure that their reporting did not add to the flaring up of communal passions and aggravate the situation in Gujarat.

To a supplementary raised by Rajiv Ranjan Singh "Lalan" (Samata Party) whether the freedom of press was above the freedom of the country, RJD member Premchand Gupta said the press should not be gagged.

Responding to their views, Swaraj said the freedom of press was definitely under the Constitutional framework and the Press Council was there to play the role of a regulator.

Swaraj said the proposal to have a broadcasting council and a media council had been dropped in view of the proposed convergence commission, which will have a content panel to keep an eye on the print and electronic media coverage.

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