Content code: Shackling press unwelcome, says government

June 6th, 2009 - 9:35 pm ICT by IANS  

Ambika Soni New Delhi, June 6 (IANS) With Information and Broadcasting Minister Ambika Soni expected to evolve the long-delayed consensus on a content code for news broadcasters, the government Saturday maintained that “any move to shackle the press would be unwelcome”.
Even as the coverage of the 26/11 Mumbai attacks attracted adverse criticism, the government, however, called for a debate on the media’s response to internal security issues.

At a seminar here Saturday, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal said while the media played an important role in forcing Pakistan to acknowledge that the lone captured survivor of the Mumbai terror attacks Ajmal Kasab was a Pakistani national, the 24/7 coverage also provided inputs to the terrorists to plan their operations.

There are “questions that stare at our face on what should be the media’s response to such incidents”, Bansal said. He also called for a debate on contentious issues like a content code which is bogged down in differing perceptions among the government and key players in the electronic news media.

Bansal was addressing a seminar on “Media Response to National Security” here, which was organised by the All India Newspaper Editor’s Conference and the Federation of Legislators of India.

The minister, however, cautioned that “any move to shackle the media would be unwelcome” as media is vital for survival of democracy.

“Without media, democracy cannot survive. It inculcates democratic values,” he said.

The broadcasters fear that the imposition of a content code could fetter their freedom. Soni, who took charge as information and broadcasting minister, last week listed the building of a consensus on content code for news broadcasters as one of her top priorities and promised to take up all issues relating to the media industry in a transparent manner.

“We will speak to all the stakeholders concerned on various aspects of the media industry. Anything related to the media will be made known in a transparent manner. We will try to bring a harmonious working relationship to the benefit and advantage of all,” said Soni.

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