Journalistic ethics apply not only to the print media but also to the electronic media and there is no reason why electronic media be not regulated by a statutory body says the Press Council
New Delhi: The Press Council of India (PCI) has urged Union Government to carry out necessary amendments to bring electronic and social media under its purview, saying broadcast media's claim for self-regulation is 'futile' and 'oxymoron', reports PTI.
The PCI, which also sought to be renamed 'The Media Council', cited the 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.
In a statement released on Tuesday, the PCI said that it had resolved that the "Government of India be requested to initiate suitable legislation to amend the Press Council Act, 1978, by (i) 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 held yesterday 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," it said.
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," the PCI statement said.
"Subsequently, the electronic media has come into existence. Journalistic ethics apply not only to the print media but also to the electronic media...," it said.
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."
"All 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.
The Council said that recent happenings had indicated that regulation of media was important.
"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.