The Supreme Court of India has voiced concerns about the lack of discipline and accountability in TV news channels and called for enhanced self-regulation. It has requested suggestions from representative bodies of TV news channels, News Broadcasters and Digital Association (NBDA) and News Broadcasters Federation (NBF), to strengthen the mechanism for dealing with channels that violate regulations. This matter arose from NBDA’s petition challenging the Bombay High Court’s decision to deny legal recognition to the self-regulatory mechanism employed by news channel associations.
GS II: Polity and Governance
Dimensions of the Article:
- Problems with Current Self-Regulation Mechanism of TV News Channels
- Implications of the Case
Problems with Current Self-Regulation Mechanism of TV News Channels:
- Balancing Free Speech and Accountability: Striking a balance between the fundamental right to free speech and ensuring accountability and discipline among news channels is challenging.
- Voluntary Associations: The current self-regulation mechanism relies on voluntary associations like NBDA and NBF to issue guidelines for broadcasters.
- Insufficient Penalties: Fines imposed by self-regulatory bodies like NBSA may not be seen as a sufficient penalty for channels engaging in unethical reporting, as channels may consider these fines as a cost of doing business.
- Lack of Regulation by NBF: NBF, representing half of the news broadcasters, has not framed any regulations and is not registered with the government.
- Ineffectiveness in Curbing Violations: The current self-regulation system does not effectively prevent TV channels from breaking rules, particularly in sensationalizing sensitive topics.
- Registration Requirements: The government’s Cable Television Networks (CTN) Amendment Rules in 2021 require the registration of self-regulatory bodies, which some bodies like NBSA have refused, while others like PNBSA are registered.
- Concerns of Monopolistic Control: There are concerns that self-regulatory bodies like NBDA might be perceived as attempting to create monopolistic control over the complaints redressal mechanism, bypassing government or statutory oversight.
Implications of the Case:
Direct Impact on TV News Channels:
- TV news channels facing allegations of violating journalistic norms may experience stricter regulations and penalties.
- The outcome of the case will determine whether they maintain their current level of immunity and autonomy.
Indirect Impact on Media and Democracy:
- The case’s outcome will influence the functioning and integrity of the media and democracy.
- It may strengthen or weaken the media’s accountability and transparency.
- It can encourage or discourage responsible and ethical journalism practices.
- The case will shape the future of news reporting in India, affecting both news channels and the broader media landscape.
- It will have consequences for public trust in the media and the protection of free speech rights.
-Source: The Hindu