Posts Tagged ‘I&B Ministry’

CHURUMURI POLL: Do journalists need a licence?

20 August 2013

As if the “idiots” in the media didn’t have enough problems to deal with—paid news, corruption, wage board, 12-minute-per-hour ad caps, cross-media controls, job losses, recession etc—the Union information and broadcasting minister Manish Tewari has now floated the kite of a “common examination” for journalists as a precursor to giving them “licenses” to operate, a la doctors and lawyers.

Bearing an eerie resemblance to press council chairman Markandey Katju‘s “order” advocating “some legal qualification” before one can enter the profession, Tewari’s proposal has the stamp of the control-freakery which has convinced the Congress-led UPA that the media is its chief problem—not the scams, scandals and shenanigans that have pockmarked its second term.

“I think a good starting point (for media education) would be that rather than prescribing a curricula which is then standardised across institutions, possibly the media industry could think about at least having a common exam. Like you have a Bar exam, like you have a medical exam or exams which are conducted by other professional bodies, which then issue a licence, which enables you to pursue your profession,” Tewari has said.

Tewari’s proposal for a “common examination” for journalists comes less than a month after the Supreme Court of India threw out the UPA’s move for a national eligibility and entrance test for life-saving medical colleges.So, does a national eligibility and entrance test for journalists stand a chance? Is it required? Will it necessarily produce good journalists or good journalism?

Even more dangerous is the thought of “licensing” journalists? Who will do that? The government of the day? A press council appointed by the government of the day? The local journalists union? Can this license be revoked or rewarded depending on favours rendered? Will a licence in one language, one state be valid in another? Etcetera.

Above all, could an examination and licence impact the freedom of the news media?

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External reading: How licensing journalists threatens independent news media

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Raju Narisetti: ‘Good journalists, poor journalism, zero standards’

Aakar Patel: Indian journalism is regularly second-rate

Is UPA hitting back at media for Anna Hazare coverage?

Say ‘No’ to India’s blogger control act

Narendra Modi‘s disgraceful assault on media freedom

An Emergency-style witchhunt of the media

‘Darkest hour for the media since Emergency’

POLL: Should media corruption come under Lok Pal?

POLL: Should ‘item songs’ be shown on TV?

8 February 2013

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The Delhi gangrape has already seen a multiplicity of effects. A government-appointed committee has presented a report in record time. The government has moved an ordinance just two weeks ahead of a Parliament session. There is a gag order on the media reporting the court case. The I&B ministry has issued an advisory to TV stations. Etcetera.

Now, there is another unintended victim: item songs.

The central board of film certification has reportedly decreed that “item songs” will in future be graded as “A” (adult) content, which means they can no longer be shown on TV whose content otherwise is supposed to be U/A (universal/adult).

“Item songs are essentially adult content. We ourselves do not define what an item song is, but what we mean is that all those songs which are meant for adult consumption, either because of their lyrics or because of visuals, should be given adult certification,” Pankaja Thakur of CBFC is quoted as saying.

There is, of course, no direct correlation between the Delhi gangrape and item songs, but there is much to be read into the timing of the CBFC move, which otherwise was turning the blind eye for so long. The underlying belief seems to be that item songs, most of which showcase severely underdressed women in orgiastic settings, fashion the minds of youngsters and could have a deleterious effect in the long run.

Question: should item songs be shown on TV or not? Should they be shown at a specific hour, like advertisements for condoms? Or are we reading too much into its impact on young minds?

Now showing at a theatre of the absurd near you

30 January 2013

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So, young Indians cannot tell their friends what they ‘like’ on Facebook, without being “pre-screened” by Harvard types (or hauled into a police station by Shiv Sena goons). So, bloggers cannot publish their “online private diaries” without the sword of 66(A) hanging over their heads.

So, tweeters can be blocked and Savita bhabhi‘s enviable lifestyle can be subject to some faceless babu’s sense of humour (or voyeurism). So, the Mahatma‘s life is beyond scrutiny in the land of you-know-who. So (oh!), Aamir Khan‘s film will not be screened in the land of you-know-who.

Or his TV show.

So, TV stations cannot show protests without threatened by the information and broadcasting ministry (or corporate titans). So, newspapers cannot report what their reporters see without being told that the tap of government advertisements could be turned off.

So, M.F. Husain cannot die in his own country. So, A.K. Ramanujam‘s interpretation of the Ramayana hurts somebody.

So, Ashis Nandy cannot drop his pearls on corruption without offending Dalits, tribals and OBCs. So, Salman Rushdie cannot go to a lit-fest in Jaipur (or Calcutta) without offending Islamist fundoos. So, Shah Rukh Khan cannot write what’s in his heart without offending.

So, Kamal Hassan‘s new film can be banned by a government run by a former film actor.

Sometimes, you do have to remind yourself it is a free country, don’t you?

Image: courtesy R. Prasad/ Mail Today

Facebook, Twitter, Bloggers, and now private TV

25 December 2012

pti

In the cold war era, it used to be said that the first target of wannabe-dictators was government-controlled radio stations—take control of it and you control the message going out.

In the post-liberalised era, the first target of the government seems to be private television stations.

Below is the full text of the “advisory” issued by the information and broadcasting ministry headed by Manish Tiwari to news and current affairs satellite TV channels on Sunday as coverage of the protests in Delhi brought the “people to the gate” (in the memorable words of The Times of India).

Interestingly, the chairman of the national broadcasting standards authority, the former chief justice of the Supreme Court, J.S. Verma, has been simultaneously named as the chairman of the three-member committee to review the laws for “speedier justice and enhanced punishment in cases of aggravated sexual assault”.

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To
All News and Current Affairs  satellite Television Channels

From
Ministry of Information & Broadcasting
“A” Wing Shastri Bhawan
New Delhi-110001

23rd December, 2012

ADVISORY

Whereas a number of private satellite news TV channels have been showing programmes covering round-the-clock direct telecast of the events relating to public demonstration being held in New Delhi in the wake of the unfortunate and tragic incident of gang rape of a young girl on 16th December, 2012 in a moving bus.

The  channels have been covering the agitation  and the efforts of the law enforcing authorities to maintain law & order, as well as the commentaries of the channel reporters to portray the incidents from their own perspectives.

Whereas this incident and the  public outcry in its aftermath are a very sensitive issue and any inappropriate media reportage thereon is likely to vitiate the law and order situation.

It has been observed that some private satellite news TV channels in their 24X7 coverage have not been showing due responsibility and maturity in telecasting the events relating the said demonstration and such a telecast is likely to cause deterioration in the law & order situation, hindering the efforts of the law enforcing authorities. (emphasis added)

Whereas Rule 6(1)(e)  of the Cable Television Networks Rules, 1994, which contains the Programme Code to be strictly adhered to by all private satellite television channels, provides that no programme should be carried in the cable service which is likely to encourage or incite violence or contains anything against maintenance of law and order or which promotes anti-national attitude.

Now, therefore, all private satellite television channels are advised to scrupulously follow the Progarmme Code laid down in the Cable Television Networks Rules, 1994 and to ensure to telecast the matter in a responsible manner with due care, maturity and restraint.

Any violation of the Programme Code will invite such action as provided for in the Cable Television(Regulation)  Act, 1995 and the Rules framed thereunder as well as the terms & conditions stipulated in Uplinking & Downlinking Guidelines.

Supriya Sahu
Joint Secretary to the Government of India

Photograph: courtesy Press Trust of India

Crossposted on sans serif

Also read: The New York Times calls Kapil Sibal‘s bluff

What brainwave has struck our netas tonight?

CHURUMURI POLL: should Facebook be censored?

Say ‘No’ to India’s blogger control Act

Censorship in the name of ‘national interest’

Is UPA hitting back for Anna Hazare coverage?

CHURUMURI POLL: Should govt. bail out media?

9 February 2009

A week is a long time in politics; a quarter is a long time in journalism. Just a few months ago, Indian media organisations were pracing around in joy, launching new channels, new editions, new supplements, new “events”, as if there was no tomorrow.

Now, suddenly, media managers are acting as if there are ants in their pants which is on fire. Hundreds of media workers have been laid off, all plans are on hold. Cost-cutting, salary cuts, freeze on recruitment are in. The sizes of most newspapers has seen a decline, as advertisments see a sharp fall.

In the midst of all this, a delegation of three newspaper publishers and editors—Shobhana Bharatia of Hindustan Times, Shekhar Gupta of The Indian Express, T.N. Ninan of Business Standard—has met officiating information and broadcasting minister Anand Sharma to plead for a “bail out”.

Questions: Should the government bail out corporate media? Should the corporate media which has often ranted against subsidies for farmers, etc, be asking for artificial sustenance? Will a party/alliance about to face an election lend its hand without attaching strings? Can a media that depends on government help for support really be independent? Or does it not matter?

Also read: Why the media mustn’t bail out the print media


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