New Delhi: Self-regulation by the media houses is the sole and vital medium to ensure less interference by the government, said Minister of State for Information and Broadcasting (Independent Charge) Manish Tiwari on Friday.
Addressing a function on the occasion of National Press Day here, Tiwari observed that the mass media was cognisant of the need to self-correct and self-regulation is really the way forward.
"The media is itself is cognisant of the need to self correct if at all there are aberrations which do creep into the discourse. I do firmly believe that self-regulation is really the way forward and that is why over the past eight years, the policy of the UPA (federal ruling United Progressive Alliance) government has been an essay in persuasion rather than an attempt at regulation," said Tiwari.
National Press Day is observed as an index of a free and responsible press in India.
This was the day on which the Press Council of India started functioning as a moral watchdog to ensure that not only the press maintains high standards expected from this powerful medium but also that it is not fettered by the influence or threats of any extraneous factors.
Tiwari further noted that there is a need to find a limit upto which freedom of speech and expression could be extended and to what level reasonable restrictions can be imposed.
"The debate really is not really about reasonable restrictions. I don't think that those are really the terms of the debate. The debate really is about finding the golden means that where does the golden means really lie. To what extent does the freedom of speech and expression extend and then where do reasonable restrictions take over and who ultimately is going to really police that space of reasonable restriction?" added Tiwari.
In his address, the Chairman of Press Council of India, Justice Markandey Katju also favoured self-regulation by the media.
He said that the regulation should not be done by the government but by an independent statutory authority like the Press Council of India.
"I am in favour of regulation of the media not control. The difference between the two is that in control there is no freedom while in regulation there is freedom but this is subject to reasonable restrictions in the public interest. However, the regulation should not be done by the government but by an independent statutory authority like the Press Council of India, which has 28 members of which 20 are representative of the press. These 20 members are not appointed by the government but are elected by the press organisations," said Justice Katju.
Among others who addressed the gathering was former Chief Justice of India, Justice M N Venkatachallaiah.
Though there are several press or media councils world over, the Press Council of India is a unique entity in as-much-as this is the only body to exercise an authority even over the instruments of the state in its duty to safeguard the independence of the press.
Recommending the establishment of Press Council in 1956, the first Press Commission had concluded that the best way of maintaining professional ethics in journalism would be to bring into existence a body with statutory authority, of people principally connected with industry whose duty it would be to arbitrate.
To this end the Press Council of India was established and the body that was evolved since November 16, 1966 has not belied the objective.
The Press Council of India observes the National Press Day on November 16 every year in a befitting manner.
Since the year 1997, several seminars have been organised by the Press Council to herald the occasion.