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Govt mulling forming guidelines for digital news and OTT platforms informs union minister Prakash Javadekar on National Press Day

Indirectly speaking on the attack on journalists at the behest of Maharashtra government Javadekar said that after so many years of Independence, the incident reminded him of the India Gandhi imposed Emergency which stifled independent media

Information and Broadcasting Minister Prakash Javadekar while extending his greetings to the media fraternity on the occasion of National Press Day, spoke on how freedom of the press is the soul of our Democracy. Addressing a webinar on National Press Day organised by Press Council of India, Javadekar reiterated that Press freedom is the soul of democracy and any attack on it is highly condemnable.

Indirectly speaking on the malicious attack on journalists at the behest of the Maharashtra government recently, Javadekar said that after so many years of Independence, the incidents remind him of the Indira Gandhi imposed Emergency. On June 25, 1975, Congress leader and Prime Minister Indira Gandhi had declared an Emergency in India and used her power to stifle independent media.

Javadekar, however, said that Press freedom should be responsible freedom. It is the duty of media to practice responsible freedom and if the government trusts on media, they must set an example too, said the minister.

He furthered that amid the recent TRP controversy, Centre has constituted a four-member committee to make “recommendations for a robust, transparent and accountable ratings system (for television) in India”. The committee will be submitting its report with suggestions in two months, said Javadekar.

He said that though print media and television channels have self-regulatory bodies to regulate the content, they can only be governed if they are part of such bodies. For channels that are not members of these self-governing bodies, they virtually are bound by no self-regulation. Saying so, the Information and Broadcasting Minister announced that the government is mulling over suggestions it has received that a common code of conduct should be constituted. Similar code of conduct or guidelines for self-regulation can be brought in for OTT and other digital news platforms too.

OTT platforms brought under the control of I&B ministry

The Central Government had issued an order on November 11 (Wednesday), bringing digital and online media, audio-visual programs, films, current affairs, and news portals under the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting.

Currently, online news and current affairs portals, OTT (over the top) platforms including Prime Video, Netflix, Hotstar, SonyLiv, AltBalaji, etc are not under the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting. Several complaints against the content on such platforms were alleging they are spreading misinformation and fake news as there was no law or autonomous body to govern the digital content. There were also demands of censorship for shows aired by the OTT platforms, and there have been several complaints against such shows alleging hurting religious sentiments and other allegations.

These are suggestions that are being mulled over, said the minister furthering that though the government doesn’t want to interfere, there are genuine issues which need to be tackled. Based on these issues, the government has been getting requests that a common code of conduct or guideline be introduced, said Javedkar, highlighting the problem of “fake news” as the biggest crisis faced by the media fraternity today.

Free press is the speciality and pillar of our democracy: Prakash Javadekar

On the occasion of National Press Day, Prakash Javadekar also extended his best wishes to journalists on Twitter.

Javadekar wrote that free press is the speciality and pillar of our democracy. He said National Press Day draws our attention towards the freedom and responsibilities of the press. He expressed concern over the fake news saying that it is the biggest crisis at present.

National Press Day is celebrated every year on November 16 to commemorate the establishment of The Press Council Of India which started functioning on November 16, 1966.

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Staff reporter at OpIndia

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