Self-Regulation By News Channels Not Adequate, Says SC Justice Nagarathna; Asks Media To Be A Constructive Critic Of Govt
Supreme Court judge B V Nagarathna has said that the current self-regulatory system followed by news channels is inadequate as it only applies to those willing to be part of the association or submit to its jurisdiction.
She warned against supervision that could turn into control and restrict free speech, emphasising the need for effective regulation that preserves media freedom.
Speaking at the Business Standard Seema Nazareth awards event on Saturday (29 April), Justice Nagarathna stated that a free press must play a constructive role and “attacking the government and constantly playing devil’s advocate for the mere sake of it, must not become its singular objective”.
In her speech titled “A free and balanced press and media: A sentinel of democracy,” Justice Nagarathna expressed her thoughts on the state of news channels and media regulation.
According to her, news channels are operating under a self-regulation system, which is "not an adequate solution" for two reasons.
Firstly, self-regulation only governs those broadcasters who are willing to join the association or submit to its jurisdiction. As a result, enforcing regulations has become a challenge for self-regulatory bodies.
Secondly, the rise of technology has enabled anyone to write and share content with millions of people, which necessitates some form of regulation to address this new age “journalism" as well.
She said that “in any society which aspires for democracy, freedom of speech and expression, which includes the freedom of the press is critical” and that “a free and balanced press is fundamental to the life of an individual in a democratic polity”.
Justice Nagaratha pointed out that even the members of the constituent Assembly while hailing the guarantee of free speech, which was inclusive of the freedom of the press, “did not accept the theory of any fundamental right, including the freedom of the press, as being absolute”.
The freedom of the press has also been described by the SC as "cherished and valued freedom in a democracy; one of the pillars of democracy; the most precious of all freedoms guaranteed under the Constitution”, she said.
In discussing the role of the press, she emphasised the need for a democratic atmosphere where the press can discuss and critique government policies or actions.
However, she noted that constantly criticising the government for the sake of doing so should not be the sole objective of a free press.
"Attacking the government and constantly playing devil’s advocate for the mere sake of it, must not become the singular objective of a free press. A free press must neither be an ally or an adversary. But a constructive critic," she said, reports Indian Express.
As you are no doubt aware, Swarajya is a media product that is directly dependent on support from its readers in the form of subscriptions. We do not have the muscle and backing of a large media conglomerate nor are we playing for the large advertisement sweep-stake.
Our business model is you and your subscription. And in challenging times like these, we need your support now more than ever.
We deliver over 10 - 15 high quality articles with expert insights and views. From 7AM in the morning to 10PM late night we operate to ensure you, the reader, get to see what is just right.
Becoming a Patron or a subscriber for as little as Rs 1200/year is the best way you can support our efforts.