The Broadcast Editors’ Association (BEA) today condemned the “irresponsible and negative comments” by the Press Council of India Chairman Justice Markandey Katju against media and media professionals.

“Coming from a person holding an august office, the utterances are extremely disappointing,” BEA said in a statement.

Taking strong exception to Justice Katju’s remark that media professionals are of low intellectual calibre, with poor knowledge of economics, history, politics, literature and philosophy, the BEA said it “shows scant knowledge” of the great journalists the country has produced. Criticism is welcome and gives a fillip to the self-corrective process. But the criticism being made by Justice Katju is demeaning and denigrating as it is a manifestation of his ignorance of media working. Any criticism made in a holier-than-thou fervour defeats the purpose,” the statement said.

The BEA said the electronic media has taken a “giant step” in creating a self-regulatory mechanism under the chairmanship of former Chief Justice of India Justice J.S. Verma.

“Justice Katju accuses the media of dividing people on communal lines and hence being anti-people. The sane and balanced coverage of two recent incidents - Ayodhya judgment and Gopalgarh riots - disproves the assertion of the PCI Chairman,” the statement read.

The apex body of editors of national and regional TV news channels in the country said that by taking recourse to logical fallacy, Justice Katju has accused the media of branding a particular community as terrorists after every bomb blast by showing emails purported to have been sent by some terrorist organisations.

“Justice Katju, the BEA hopes, is aware of the elementary lesson of logic that says ‘cow is an animal but all animals are not cow,’” the BEA statement said.

On the issue of inclusion of the electronic media under the ambit of the PCI, the BEA said it “exposes more than what it conceals.”

“The BEA would like to remind the new PCI chief of the media’s role in ameliorating the plight of the poor by airing news about abject poverty and rank corruption. Had it not been the case, the self-proclaimed intellectuals cosily sitting in the majestic lap of the State would not have even known its magnitude,” the statement said.

It said the Indian electronic media in its 16 years of existence “outside of government” has achieved many milestones in strengthening the democratic values and has, as bulwark of democracy, continued to live up to people’s expectations.

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