One must do responsible journalism and avoid sensationalization: Javadekar

On the occasion of National Press Day, the Union Minister covered multiple issues such as press freedom, TRPs, regulatory bodies for TV news channels and OTT platforms
One must do responsible journalism and avoid sensationalization: Javadekar

“Freedom of press is the cornerstone of our democracy and its freedom is very important,” said Union Minister Prakash Javadekar as he began his message during a webinar organized by the Press Council of India on the occasion of National Press Day on Monday.

The Union Minister for Information and Broadcasting stated that the freedom of the press is responsible freedom. “One must do responsible journalism and should avoid sensationalization,” said Javedekar. “These days, a conversation on the freedom of the press has once again risen in our country. I have tweeted before that the ways in which the freedom of press is being attacked, is not good,” he said.

Javadekar pointed out that there are multiple issues that must be addressed. The first issue he brought up was the TRP issue that was a topic of discussion over the last few months on Indian news channels.

“What is the matter with TRP? The advertisers will give advertisements. They need a guide so as to know where to give the advertisements which will benefit them. At what time they must give ads, on which programme they must give ads and on which channels they must give ads,” he said.

Javedkar added that it was the advertisers and broadcasters who came together, formed the TRP system and established Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC). He asked why the government would interfere when the advertisers and broadcasters are of the same view. “However, now we are forced to intervene and a committee has been appointed to get rid of any kind of manipulation," he said.

The second issue Javadekar brought up was self-regulatory. He informed that the Government of India is studying and finding ways to strengthen the regulatory process for the news media. He said that television news channels need self-regulation.

“An agency headed by Justice A Sikhri was appointed to regulate news channels but many channels are not its members. People have been requesting the government to come up with a new code of conduct for news channels so that it is common for all of them,” Javadekar said, adding the government hasn’t come up with a decision yet but are definitely thinking about it.

He also brought up the issue of over the top (OTT) platforms.

“Neither are they governed like the Press Council of India nor do they have a self-regulatory body. The movies on these platforms are either good, average, bad or worse. People have been giving suggestions and we are listening to them as to what must be done there,” he said. Javadekar said it is better if those in the media itself take the initiative and lead by setting a good example of responsible freedom.

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