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"Need Of The Hour Is To Regulate Web-based Digital Media First As It Is Completely Uncontrolled": Centre Tells SC In Sudarshan TV Case [Read Affidavit]

LIVELAW NEWS NETWORK
21 Sep 2020 6:33 AM GMT
Need Of The Hour Is To Regulate Web-based Digital Media First As It Is Completely Uncontrolled: Centre Tells SC In Sudarshan TV Case [Read Affidavit]
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The Central Government has urged the Supreme Court to not lay down any guidelines for the regulation of mainstream electronic and print media, and to leave the same to be dealt with by the competent legislature. It has highlighted that the "self-regulatory mechanism" for redressal of complaints against electronic broadcast channels are, by and large, "effective and...

The Central Government has urged the Supreme Court to not lay down any guidelines for the regulation of mainstream electronic and print media, and to leave the same to be dealt with by the competent legislature.

It has highlighted that the "self-regulatory mechanism" for redressal of complaints against electronic broadcast channels are, by and large, "effective and ensures impartiality".

Thus, it is not desirable to "widen the scope of present petition by laying down any wider guidelines of general application."

At the same time the Centre has submitted that there is absolutely no check on the web based digital media 

It is also relevant to note that in case of a electronic and print media, the security of the nation is also taken care of at the time of the registration and / or grant of license to the company or the organization intending to publish or broadcast either newspaper or a news-channel. The registration also follows only after clearance from Ministry of Home from the national security point of view [in case of TV channels] and other statutory authorities [in case of print media]. 

Apart from spreading venomous hatred, deliberate and intended instigation to not only cause violence but even terrorism it is also capable of indulging in tarnishing the image of individuals and institutions. The said practice is, in fact, rampant.The submissions have been made by way filing a Counter Affidavit in the ongoing case against Sudarshan TV for telecasting a show titled 'Bindass Bol', which allegedly communalizes selections to the Indian Civil Services.

Centre submitted that if the Court considers it necessary to lay down guidelines for the mainstream electronic and print media [which is not required ], it is the need of the hour that this Court starts the said exercise first with "web based digital media" which includes "web magazines" and "web-based news channels" and "web-based news-papers" as the same not only has a very wide reach but is completely uncontrolled.


The Government has submitted,

"It is, therefore, in the interest of justice and appropriate that either this Hon'ble Court may leave wider issues to be considered and decidedly the Central Government and the competent legislature or starts with the exercise with an examination of the very same issues in the context of digital media."

'Regulate Digital Media First Since It Has Wider Reach Than TV And Electronic Media': Centre tells SC In Plea Against Sudarshan TV's "UPSC Jihad' Show

The Court has been informed that the Ministry has an institutional mechanism of an Inter-Ministerial Committee (IMC) which looks at complaints either suo moto or when brought before it. This IMC gives its recommendation to the Ministry for taking action in case found to have violated the Programme Code and Advertisement Code.

Further, a major number of players are members of the self-regulatory bodies such as News Broadcasters Association and News Broadcasters Federation.

It is informed that regulatory mechanism followed by these bodies is "not only robust but can inspire confidence as both such self-regulatory mechanism are headed by a former Hon'ble Judge of this Hon'ble Court."

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Furthermore, a large number of entertainment channels are members of the Indian Broadcasting Foundation and the Consumer Complaint Council, both of whom have their own self-regulatory mechanisms.

The Government has however proceeded to admit that the membership of these bodies is not compulsory and therefore the matter does require examination.

It has been assured that the Central is examining the manner and procedure to ensure "one statutory umbrella mechanism redressal of grievances" while completely ensuring journalistic freedom, honouring and respecting the freedom of speech and expression and ensuring a mechanism which would ensure impartiality.

In this context, they have informed the Court that they propose to amend the Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Act, 1995 and include specific provisions for penal action for breach of the Programme Code.

"A proposal in this regard was prepared and placed on public domain on 15.01.2020 for inviting objections and suggestions from the various stakeholders," the affidavit states.

Click Here to Download Affidavit

[Read Affidavit]



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