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Sunday, January 28, 2001

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Call for media watchdog

By Our Staff Reporter

BANGALORE, JAN. 27. Decrying the monopolising trend in the newspaper industry, the eminent journalist and Rajya Sabha member, Mr. Kuldip Nayar, on Saturday urged the Government to appoint a media commission to monitor the fast-changing media scene.

At the 9th All-India Conference of the Newspaper Employees' Association here, Mr. Nayar wondered whether one group should be allowed to extend its monopoly to the Internet, radio and other media. ``This will mean making many Murdochs in our country. It will also mean a serious clout which can be used against political parties and others,'' he observed.

Mr. Nayar said newspapers should not develop into instruments exercising political clout. That influence should be on the people, the reader. ``Every newspaper should have some kind of a check,'' he said.

Calling for cordial relations between journalists and newspaper owners, Mr. Nayar said the hiatus that existed would not help journalism or society. He said the freedom of expression guaranteed to journalists in the Constitution was indirectly used by vested monopolistic interests. ``If 99 per cent of newspapers are to be owned and edited by a single person, what are the interests involved,'' he sought to know.

Mr. Nayar said some newspapers were openly promoting people bent on dividing the country, those who preached superiority of one religion over others. ``Today, I don't find many mediamen who are committed to the ethos of secularism and equality of opportunity. Where is the sense of accommodation, the sense of plurality?''

Today, journalism has been reduced to a form of entertainment, Mr. Nayar said. ``News is no longer a profession. It is a product, like a soap or oil.''

Opposing the entry of foreign capital into the print sector, he said capitalists would ``play with our ideas.'' The printed word, he said, was still sacred in the country and could not be allowed to be exploited. ``Our newspapers have the best of technical knowledge. Our journalists are second to none. Then why this foreign capital?'' he asked. Mr. Nayar said journalists should address people's problems that were a fallout of globalisation. ``If globalisation means more disparities between the rich and the poor, journalists should look into them.''

The Karnataka Chief Minister, Mr. S.M.Krishna, said newspaper employees rarely got in full what they wanted from the wage boards, which decided their salaries. ``The State Government firmly supports the view that wage board recommendations should be properly implemented by the employers.''

He suggested that newspaper managements offer stock options to at least a section of their employees as a reward for continuity of service. ``Journalists should have the right to own a percentage of share,'' he felt.

The Minister of State for Information and Publicity, Prof. B.K. Chandrashekar, questioned the practice of sensationalising news.

INS seeks Centre's help

NEW DELHI, JAN. 27. The Indian Newspaper Society (INS) today demanded the Centre's immediate intervention to reverse the decision of the Chief Postmaster General, Delhi Circle, rejecting the applications of several Delhi-based magazines for renewal of registration for 2001.

Deploring the action of the postal authorities, the INS president, Mr. Vijay Kumar Chopra, said many of the affected magazines had been in existence for several decades and there was no change in their status to merit rejection of their applications for renewal, INS said.


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