Will Anna wave lead to media curbs?

07 Sep,2011

The Indian Government is looking at ways to curtail exaggeration in press reports, the case in point being the recent coverage of the Anna Hazare Movement.

Media reports say the issue came up at a recent meeting of the Union Cabinet, with Urban Development Minister Kamal Nath speaking about the need to impose some restrictions on news reports to prevent exaggerations.

Sources say that a committee to look into the issue of exaggeration in media reports might be set up, but the intention is not to curb the freedom of the press.

As is known, earlier too the Government had raised the issue of being pressurised due to overdone coverage of events by media.

The news media obviously is not too happy with this yet to be confirmed development.

Mr Satish K Singh, Editor, Zee News, opined, Though we have heard about it briefly, we are not aware of the motive of proposed group. We will wait to see what it is all about. And if it is anything like clamping or strangulation  it will be opposed. However, he added that they would have no problem with regular interaction with the Government. It has happened in the past also, and we have always heard and contributed our bit.

Mr Yatish Rajawat, Managing Editor, Dainik Bhaskar group, too was of the opinion that there is only a very remote chance of such a thing happening. He said emphatically, To begin with, I believe that the minister has been quoted out of contest. Nothing of the type would happen. He went on to question, How can the Government put in a panel? It is neither feasible nor practical or fair. How can a panel look at the news I am carrying every day?

None of the news media professionals MxM India spoke to saw any virtue in the Government curtailing news media in any way. Mr Sanjay Prabhakar, Mumbai Bureau Chief, p7 news channel, summed up the sentiment with his argument, What is the media’s responsibility, if it is not to bring such issues into focus? Media knows its boundaries and limitations. No panel can decide for us, we are responsible enough to understand.

And do people in the media that a section did go overboard, or gave the movement undue coverage? Yet once again the answer is a unanimous No. Mr Rajawat stated, I think the Anna coverage did not go overboard  when emotions are running high, the media has to present their angle, and reflect people’s sentiment. It is our job to discover what lies behind that sentiment.

Mr Singh, meanwhile, was far more vociferous in his response, How can you reach the conclusion that the Anna movement was over-covered? If you see the Government’s stand itself, the Prime Minister himself has said that they are with the ideals of the Anna movement  he even saluted him in Parliament. He added, As for my channel specifically, we actually presented a very balanced view. We have spoken about the sanctity of Parliament, virtues of the Constitution, and also presented the Government’s point of view. I myself discussed these subjects more than 20 times. As a channel we have put everything on the platter.

Clearly, this is not a debate that will die down in a hurry. Watch this space for more.

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