Is there at all a dividing line between media and business?
This question worried the minds of participants at a round table jointly hosted on Tuesday by the Indian Journalists Union, Press Club of India and the Press Academy of Andhra Pradesh.
‘Media and Business- Line of Control’ as a discussion theme was itself flawed, said Pankaj Pachouri of the NDTV, while honing in his point that media means big business in today’s world. Twenty seven companies with a total cap of Rs 42000 crore are listed on the stock exchange, while 11 IPOs and 12 JV projects from foreign investors are in the offing this year.
He said that at the same time, media was a different kind of a business - as the Reliance experience with the Observer newspaper had shown. The important issue, he said, was to evolve self-regulatory mechanisms for ensuring the freedom, creativity job stability of working journalists.
Cross media holdings of newspaper barons was another issue that evoked sharp responses from the participants - who included K Amarnath, President of AP Union of Working Journalists, Harish Khare, Political Editor of The Hindu, Mohan Kanda, Member, National Disaster Management Authority and senior journalist Girish Nikam besides the Press Club of India (PCI) President Rahul Jalali.
Most speakers favoured regulation to prevent barons from acquiring stakes in a simultaneous media business, while some said that such a measure might obstruct and restrict the spirit of creativity. They said technology was constantly re-defining and challenging the traditional boundaries. It would not do too much good to prevent media barons from venturing out into other kinds of enterprise, they said.
Indian Journalists Union President Suresh Akhouri - referring to recent RBI strictures against Eenadu proproiter Ramoji Rao - said the media barons should not be allowed to flout the law of the land. Justice GN Ray, Chairman, Press Council of India, said that efforts to distort news in favour of any business interest could be harmful to the spirit of journalism.