Several editors on Monday advocated self-regulation as the best way to reconcile media’s free speech rights with its accountability to society. Setting the ball rolling at a conference on ‘Media, Public Interest and Issues of Regulation: Indo-U.K. Perspectives,’ hosted here by the Media Development Foundation (MDF) and Asian College of Journalism, Justice K. Chandru, former Judge, Madras High Court, said accountability should come from within the media.
N. Ravi, Editor-in-Chief of The Hindu , advocated both increased freedom through liberal laws and a greater sense of responsibility and accountability on the part of the Indian media by observing professional norms including accuracy, fairness and sensitivity to social concerns.
Shekhar Gupta, Editor-in-Chief of The Indian Express , said there was no need for any regulation as the media in India was hardly doing enough to be regulated and “journalists were largely careful about many things, especially [in reporting] the personal lives of politicians.”
John Lloyd, Director of Journalism, Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism, said any regulation of the media would have to be independent of the state.
N. Ram, Chairman, Kasturi & Sons Ltd., said evolving of editorial codes by media organisations and the presence of an internal ombudsman would help raise standards and improve public perception of media performance.
Maalan Narayanan, Editor, Puthiya Thalaimurai , who held media freedom and accountability to be interlinked, said the media was partly responsible for the growing clamour for controlling or monitoring it.
Marcus Winsley, Director, Press and Communications Group, British High Commission, Delhi, said the U.K. government passionately believed in press freedom. Om Thanvi, Editor, Jan Satta , said favours accepted by journalists had turned from small gifts to houses and plots. Media Development Foundation chairman Sashi Kumar said call for regulation of the media was getting louder because the other three pillars of democracy — the executive, the legislature and the judiciary — were perceived as institutionally accountable.
Discussing “Issues of regulation in media,” Stephen Pritchard, president, Organisation for News Ombudsmen and Readers’ Editor, The Observer , highlighted the importance of self-regulation for the media and the role of Readers' Editor.
Krishna Prasad, Editor-in-Chief, Outlook , said more important than content regulation were issues concerning media ownership, conflict of interests and trade practices.
President and general counsel of Star TV Deepak Jacob said television was the most regulated medium.
Panos South Asia Executive Director and Readers’ Editor of The Hindu A.S. Panneerselvan said the issue of regulation was always a contested terrain.
The two-day meet is supported by Panos South Asia and the British Deputy High Commission.