Bangalore, Sep 19: Faced with continued assault on the freedom of the Press, Indian Newspaper Society (INS) today said that the 'Broadcast Regulation Content Code', proposed by the Union government, was an attempt to hit at the very root of the freedom of expression sanctified by the Constitution.
Addressing the 68th Annual General Meeting of the INS, outgoing President Hormusji N Cama said the Code would result in stifling the Indian print media and the freedom of expression, a freedom without which the character of India's democratic polity itself could be questioned.
He said the print media faced several roadblocks due to some moves being made by the Union government. "At the time when India celebrates its 60th year of independence, something for which we are all justifiably proud, the government is seeking to curb freedom of speech and independence of the media. It is sad that in the World's largest independent democratic country, this industry is facing such serious threats," he added.
Mr Cama denounced the attempts to smother the Press including the attacks on the offices of Outlook, Mathrubhumi and Dinakaran by anti social elements and miscreants. "We strongly protest against these incidents. The government must put to an end such criminal practices that some misguided elements are increasingly indulging in to force the Press to submit to their dictates," he said.
Mr Cama said the Union government's attempt to channel all PSU advertisements through DAVP by the Information and Broadcasting Ministry at rates highly uneconomical badly affected all serious publishers. By this move the government had effectively interferred with the autonomy of the commercial entities functioning under different Ministries, he added.
On the positive side, he said the newspaper industry continued to grow at a decent pace for the fourth year in succession with increasing circulation, readership and impressive growth in advertising revenues.
The Society membership which was around 700 now was growing with more publishers becoming members. Among these 18 members were more than 100 years old and many of those were marching towards their 200th year of publication, he said.
"This generally positive outlook for the newspaper industry needs to be tempered with realisation that continuing growth of TV and FM Radio stations, the exponential growth of Internet and increasing use of Cellular technology to disseminate news will sooner or later impact the newspaper industry in revenue terms," he said.
Mr Cama said that this year, the Society had endeavoured to have a relook at the manner in which it worked, as also the relationships with other organisations vital to the industry such as Media Research Users Council (MRUC), Audit bureau of Circulation (ABC) and National Readership Studies Council (NRSC) and the Advertising Agencies Association of India (AAAI).
"We have also initiated a review of our policies, rules and regulations to bring them in line with the changing context," he added.