News broadcasters create self-regulatory mechanism

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New Delhi, Aug 23 (UNI) The much awaited self-regulatory mechanism promised by news broadcasters is now in place.

In a first ever initiative, association of private news and current affairs broadcasters of the country, the News Broadcasters Association (NBA), has constituted News Broadcasting Standards (Disputes Redressal) Authority" to enforce its Code of Ethics and Broadcasting Standards, an NBA spokesperson said here.

The code was recently submitted to the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting after over two years of tussle between the broadcasters and the Government that followed the latter's move to bring in a Broadcasting Services Regulation Bill which provided for a regulator of the broadcast sector, and a TV content code.

The broadcasters wanted self-regulation in the industry, an idea supported by the government but the latter did not completely rule out any room for itself in the regulation business.

In a statement, the NBA said it had come out with the self-regulatory mechanism because it believed that since media's job was to expose the lapses in government and in public life, it would lack credibility if it was regulated by government.

''It is a fundamental paradigm of freedom of speech that media must be free from governmental control in the matter of 'content'..... It therefore falls upon the journalistic profession to evolve institutional checks and safeguards, specific to the electronic media, that would conform to the highest standards of rectitudet and journalistic ethics....,'' the statemen read.

The NBA said censure by jury of peers would be more effective in checking any aberration by TV channels.

''Interference by government, however well intentioned, would imperil not just independent journalism, but the very process of investigation itself. It therefore has become imperative that news channels lay down guidelines, procedural safeguards and establish a body that would act as a watchdog and a grievance redressal forum,'' it stressed.

The NBA had committed to the government, that as a measure of self-regulation, it would put in place a Code of Ethics and Broadcasting Standards to be followed by its Members ; and a News Broadcasting Standards Disputes Redressal Authority ("Authority") for enforcement of the Code. This initiative was welcomed by the government, it said.

The nine-member Authority instituted by the NBA will be chaired by Mr Justice J S Verma, former Chief Justice of India and former Chairperson of the National Human Rights Commission.

The other Members on the Authority are: Mr Ramachandra Guha, historian and author, Mr Kiran Karnik, former president NASSCOM, Prof Dipankar Gupta, eminent sociologist (JNU), Mr Nitin Desai, economist and former Under Secretary General, United Nations.

All the above are under "Eminent Persons" category.

The Members under "Editors" category are: Mr Vinod Kapri, Managing Editor, India TV, Mr B. V. Rao, Group Editor, Zee News, Mr Milind Khandekar, Managing Editor, Star News and Mr Arnab Goswami, Editor-in-Chief, Times Now.

The Authority will become operational from October 2.

UNI NAZ PK RN1442

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