The Centre is in favour of self-regulation and not thinking of imposing restrictions on the media, but news organisations should exercise “necessary self-restraint and avoid sensationalism”, union information and broadcasting minister M Venkaiah Naidu said on Wednesday.
Speaking at an event organised by Press Council of India (PCI) on the occasion of National Press Day, he said freedom of press or freedom of expression is best utilised only when the “value of such freedom is fully appreciated”.
“When freedom is not exercised judiciously, our existing laws provide for necessary intervention and course correction. The government is not thinking of any restriction on any medium, but it expects all the stakeholders to be responsible in using different platforms,” Naidu said.
He said news and views “should not be mixed” and added that the media should be “nearer to the truth” and should avoid sensationalism.
“My advice applies more to the electronic media than the print media,” the Union minister pointed out.
“Sensationalism, yellow journalism, TRP-generating news versus factual news cannot earn the confidence of the consumer,” Naidu added.
Speaking about self-regulation, he said, “It is the best for the media...government is not for imposing or curtailing the views of the people. But, the media needs to remember that if it fails to exercise self-restraint and regulate its conduct, then there has to be a mechanism.”
With great power comes great responsibility, he said, adding that the media should exercise that responsibility.
Naidu pointed out that the media coverage of the 26/11 Mumbai attack had drawn criticism from the Supreme Court, adding that the coverage of the Pathankot airbase attack earlier in the year too had “highlighted the need for self-restraint”.
The Union minister also said the “prevalence of paid news” was “bringing a bad name” to the media.
Naidu, however, mentioned that journalists from different generations had set a very high standard over the years. He also termed the Emergency imposed in the 70s as a “dark chapter in our democracy”.