Former Member of Parliament and veteran journalist Kuldip Nayar on Tuesday called for the setting up of a press commission to go into issues such as “paid news.”
Noting that the last time a press commission was set up was in 1977, he said it was time for a fresh one in the light of developments over the past three decades.
‘Press not free'
Alleging that the press in India was “not free, really,” he said: “Editorial space is being sold, including in large, mainstream newspapers. It is going on everyday.”
Newspapers, he lamented, “are becoming pro-establishment, when they have to be anti-establishment.” He also criticised the growing tendency among newspapers to appoint journalists on contract basis instead of under the wage board system.
Need for job security
“The contract system should be abolished. It is illegal. All journalists must be covered under the Wage Board. It will give them security of job. That will help them work without any fear.”
Mr. Nayar was releasing a document prepared by the Delhi Union of Journalists (DUJ), Delhi Media Centre for Research and Publications Trust and Popular Education and Action Centre on the report of the sub-committee set up by the Press Council of India (PCI) on the issue of paid news.
Paranjoy Guha Thakurta, a co-author of the report, said that stringent steps were needed to curb the menace of paid news as the credibility of the press was at stake.
General secretary of DUJ S.K. Pande criticised the PCI for not publishing the full report of the sub-committee and instead coming out with a “highly diluted” version, after removing references to newspapers found “guilty” of publishing paid news.
“It does no credit to the editing skills of the Press Council members that a report of over 36,000 words was cut down to less than 4,000 words. It is blatant censorship.”