The Broadcast Editors Association (BEA) has turned down Press Council of India (PCI) chief Markandey Katju's proposal to form a joint committee to protect the freedom of Indian media.
"The very raison d'etre of the BEA is regulatory. Accordingly, the News Broadcasting Standards Authority (NBSA) set up under the able guidance of Justice JS Verma is performing very well and we are happy. We express gratitude to Justice Katju for the offer but we cannot take it up," NK Singh, general secretary, BEA, told HT.
On Monday, Katju had written: "A co-ordination committee be formed between the PCI and the BEA consisting of three or more representatives of both bodies. This is to my mind necessary because media freedom has of late been imperiled in many parts of the country, and we should jointly fight against this dangerous trend, otherwise the situation may grow worse..."
"Although PCI deals only with the print media, I have been fighting for freedom of the electronic media too."
The BEA, an apex body of editors of national and regional TV news channels of India, has been cagey from sometime back on Katju's utterances on the media besides the effort to bring the electronic media under the PCI.
"The new body (of print and TV mediums) should be called Media Council and we should be given more teeth. Those teeth would be used in extreme situations," Katju had told a TV channel.
Meanwhile, information and broadcasting minister Ambika Soni informed the Rajya Sabha on Monday that the Group of Ministers (GoM) will shortly meet to examine the PCI's report on paid news.
The PCI has recommended amendment to the Representation of the People's Act, 1951, to make incidence of paid news a punishable electoral malpractice and suggested that the PCI must be fully empowered to adjudicate the complaints of "paid news" to give final judgement in the matter among others.
It also suggested measures to curb the menace of paid news like setting up of a special cell in the Election Commission for action on such complaints and self-regulation by media and awareness generation.