Mumbai, Aug 7: Media baron Subhash Chandra today questioned the regulatory norms on ownership structure and said it wouldn't be surprising if some of the news channels are "owned by the underworld."
In the light of mushrooming of news channels, he also called for adopting a strict funding criteria, as the Reserve Bank does in case of financial institutions, for checking the source of funds. "Today, ownership of media, particularly of news channels is opaque.
We should not be surprised if some of these news channels are owned by underworld elements," Chandra who runs the Zee brand of news channels and general entertainment channels, was quoted as saying in a company statement here.
Calling for better regulatory mechanism of news channels, Chandra further said, "The need of the hour is to have a media council with robust media ethics and code of conduct, similar to the due diligence provided in the banking sector by RBI.
"The Reserve Bank applies the 'fit and proper' criteria before issuing any permission for entities entering the financial services sector. The RBI criteria probe the whole corporate entity and search for the sources of funds as well as the relationship of the promoters in a vertical and horizontal manner, as these services impact the common man."
He also alleged that some of the media owners could be using news business as a facade for illegal activities. "The media houses were started by our freedom fighters, like Raja Ram Mohan Roy, to inform and empower the people. However, today, a few entities have started news media businesses as a "shield for their illegal activities."
"Regulatory complexities are a concern for the industry and with skewed business models, no serious corporate wants to invest in this industry. It is high time we realised the need for a defined framework of rules under the media regulator to screen out these illegal players," Chandra said. He also urged the industry players to come together and raise their voice on this issue.