Calls for self-regulation, as ‘aberrations have crept in’

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his Information Minister Manish Tewari on Wednesday celebrated the growth of the media but lamented the aberrations that have crept into the fourth estate. Both were speaking at the valedictory function of Malayala Manorama’s 125th anniversary celebrations here.

“As the media has grown in size and evolved over the years, some aberrations have also crept in,” Dr. Singh said. “It is for the media itself to find ways and means of removing the deficiencies it suffers from,” he added. But the Prime Minister maintained that the media had served the country well in disseminating information, educating the public and keeping a critical eye on the working of the government.

Earlier, Mr. Tewari echoed similar sentiments. “The media landscape has transformed exponentially over the past two decades. This transformation has brought its own set of challenges to the media industry. Primary among them being the paradox of the short fuse — increased information dissemination mechanisms and increased intolerance of the other point of view.”

Referring to the crisis facing the print industry worldwide in the face of competition from the new media, Mr. Tewari said: “India seems to have bucked the trend. According to industry estimates, the Indian newspaper market will be the only one to grow at a double-digit Compounded Annual Growth Rate of 10 per cent and would emerge as the world’s sixth-largest newspaper market by 2017 as per industry reports on media and entertainment.”

With 94,067 registered publications, including 12,511 newspapers and 81,556 periodicals in several languages being published weekly, fortnightly, and monthly, India was one of the major publication hubs of the world, Mr. Tewari said.

Regional sector

About the regional language print sector, the Minister said it was growing on the back of rising literacy and low print media penetration, as well as the heightened interest of advertisers wanting to leverage these markets.

Expressing the view that there is a strong need for further consolidation of the vernacular segment in a diverse country like India, the Minister pointed out that the print media is dominated by the buoyancy of the language markets.

Hindi and vernacular publications contribute 60 per cent of the revenues and cater to 89 per cent of the total readership. “Our traditional media would continue to grow if they embark upon strong regional content, which resonates with the aspirations of people,” he said.

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