If TV channels don't want to come under Press Council they should choose Lokpal

Dismissive of the news broadcast industry's self-regulatory mechanism, Press Council of India Chairman Justice Markandey Katju has said if TV channels do not want to come under the PCI they should choose another body like the Lokpal.

“Self-regulation is no regulation and news organisations are private bodies whose activities have a large influence on the public and they also must be answerable to the public,” he said.

On Sunday, Justice Katju wrote to News Broadcasting Association secretary N.K. Singh: “I would like to know whether the Association is willing to be placed under the Lokpal, which is proposed to be set up in the winter session of Parliament? You seem to be reluctant to come under the Press Council. Are you also reluctant to come under the Lokpal,” he asked.

“You claim the right of self-regulation. May I remind you that even judges of the Supreme Court and the High Courts do not have that absolute right. They can be impeached by Parliament for misconduct…” he wrote.

“Lawyers come under the Bar Council and their licence can be suspended or cancelled for professional misconduct. Similarly, doctors come under the Medical Council, chartered accountants under their council, etc.” He said: “In the recent Anna Hazare movement, wide publicity was given to it by the media. What is the demand of Anna Hazare? That politicians, bureaucrats, judges, etc, should all be placed under the Jan Lokpal Bill. By what logic do you claim to be exempt from being placed under the Lokpal?”

The letter said: “You claim the right of self-regulation. By the same logic, politicians, bureaucrats, etc, will also claim the right of self-regulation. Or, do you claim to be so doodh ka dhula [cleansed by milk] that you should not be regulated by anyone else except yourself? What then were paid news, Radia tapes, etc.”

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