His views on how the media should be reined in, particularly the electronic news media, has not gone down well with news channels as well the larger journalistic fraternity
BestMediaInfo Bureau | Delhi | November 4, 2011
Justice (Retd) M Katju’s weekend interview with Karan Thapar on CNN IBN has raised a hornet’s nest in the media establishment cutting across print and television. Justice Katju was recently appointed Chairman of the Press Council of India (PCI). His views on how the media should be reined in, particularly the electronic news media, has not gone down well with news channels as well the larger journalistic fraternity. Incidentally, the electronic media is outside the purview of PCI.
On Tuesday, November 2, 2011, the Editors’ Guild of India and the NBA (News Broadcasters Association) slammed Justice Katju’s remarks against the media in separate statements.
The Editors’ Guild termed Justice Katju’s comments as “ill-considered, sweeping and uninformed comments…He has been making negative statements on the media ever since he assumed office, but his comments in an interview on CNN IBN broadcast over the weekend has touched a new low.”
The Guild statement further states that Justice Katju has aired his “poor opinion of the media and media people, some of whom are members of the Press Council that he chairs…The Guild notes that he has asked the government for draconian powers to impose fines on the media, to withdraw advertisements and to suspend the licence to publish or broadcast….The Guild strongly opposes such powers being given to the PCI led by someone who it would seem wants to invoke fear in the media.”
On its part, the NBA, reacting strongly, wrote to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh drawing his attention to the statements made by Justice Katju. The statement said: “It is with distress that we are compelled to bring to your notice the unwarranted comments of Justice Katju in his recent interview that the attempt of NBA to adopt self-regulation under the chairmanship of Justice (Retd) JS Verma, former Chief Justice of India, ‘simply isn’t working’; and that the reason it is not working at all is that ‘there must be some fear in the media’ which can only happen with a ‘danda’, which he is magnanimous to say will only be used when required.”
The NBA statement draws the Prime Minister’s attention to the fact Justice Katju, based on his own statements, has “written to you on the subject of the formation of a ‘Media Council’, which suggestion you are considering.”
It adds: “We are unable to understand how Justice Katju has come to this conclusion that the
self-regulatory mechanism adopted by NBA by setting up the News Broadcasting Standards
Authority (NBSA) has failed. It is important to note that the News Broadcasting Standards
Authority was established in October, 2008 whereas the statutorily set up Press Council of
India has been in existence since 1978.”