Government sets up media consultative committee

February 20th, 2009 - 8:54 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Feb 20 (IANS) Even as the debate continues over framing guidelines for the media in sensitive situations like the Mumbai attacks, the government Friday formed a consultative committee that will act as a nodal body for exchanging views between the government and professional media bodies.
The media consultative committee, headed by Sushma Singh, secretary in the information and broadcasting ministry, will serve as a forum of regular consultations between the government and various professional media bodies and provide a platform for exchanging f views on the concerns of civil society.

It will also discuss concerns of media organisations on various regulatory, policy and procedural matters, say the terms of reference announced Friday by the information and broadcasting ministry.

The committee will meet at least twice a year.

The panel will also include the CEO of Prasar Bharati, senior officials of the ministry and the member-secretary of the National Commission for Women.

Top representatives of various professional media bodies like the Press Council of India, Editors’ Guild, Indian Newspapers Society, News Broadcasters Association, Indian Broadcasting Foundation, Indian Media Group, Indian Women Press Corps, All India Newspapers Editor Conference, All India Small and Medium Newspaper Federation and Indian Language Newspaper Association are also members of the committee.

In view of the impact of TV programmes on schoolchildren and to create greater sensitivity towards the disabled, the committee will also include the principal of the Springdales School, New Delhi, and the director of NGO Action for Autism.

With growing concern over the allegedly irresponsible reporting by some TV news channels following the Nov 26-29 Mumbai terrorist attacks, the government is also considering a proposal to set up a commission to frame comprehensive guidelines to cover all media, including websites and Internet TV.

The News Broadcasters Association has come out with a set of self-regulatory guidelines that includes deferring live coverage of terrorist incidents and norms for sting operations. But the government feels that self-regulation in the age of cut-throat competition driven by the race for TRPs may not be effective.

An attempt to impose guidelines, which include using only government-approved footage of incidents like the Mumbai attacks, was roundly condemned by leading broadcasters as a gag order.

Finally, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had to assure broadcasters that no such guidelines would be imposed without the widest possible consultation with all stakeholders.

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