MANGALORE: President of the Editors’ Guild of India Rajdeep Sardesai has expressed the need for an independent body to regulate television news media in the country.
Interacting with presspersons during his visit here on Sunday, Mr. Sardesai said: “Something like a broadcast regulatory of India should be constituted to keep a tab on media transgressions.” He stressed the importance of a body like the Office of Communications, which is an independent telecommunications regulator in the United Kingdom. Mr. Sardesai also gave the example of the Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) and said: “If an advertisement is found to breach the standards set, the council has the power to pull it out of circulation and fine the advertiser.”
The Editors’ Guild, which is currently deliberating the “paid news” controversy exposed by The Hindu’s Rural Affairs Editor P. Sainath, did not have punitive powers like the ASCI and Ofcom, Mr. Sardesai said.
No role for government: However, he said that under no circumstances could the government be allowed to play a direct role in the functioning of a regulatory body. Responding to an idea mooted by Home Minister V.S. Acharya for the setting up of a media ombudsman, he said that the government, which is run by political parties, could not be entrusted with upholding the freedom of the press. He also expressed fears that it was likely to be swayed by political considerations as opposed to ethical ones.
Mr. Sardesai said that a regulatory body should be made up of “respectable” members of “impeccable and unquestionable integrity” from “across the board”, such as retired judges, members of civil society, and senior journalists.