Foreign ownership not good for Indian media: Harold Evans

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New Delhi, Nov 15 (UNI) Legendary editor and icon of English journalism Sir Harold Evans today cautioned the media in the country against the dangers of ownership by foreign groups and business conglomerates.

''Newspapers and broadcasting media in complex and sensitive societies like India would not be well served by foreign ownership that is blind to the traditions and subtleties, and in fact, sees culture as a market place,'' Sir Evans said.

He was delivering the K C Mammen Mappillai Memorial Lecture here this evening. The event was organised by the Malayala Manorama group which was founded by Mappillai. The event was presided over by Minister for Science and Technology Kapil Sibal.

Sir Evans said his reservations against foreign ownership' however, do not mean that there should be custom barriers for ideas and information.

Noting the challenges to the freedom of the Press, he said ournalism would by its very nature, face challenges to its freedom from the establishment.

In this connection, he quoted Lord Northcliffe, owner of the Times, who said, ''news is what somebody somewhere wants to suppress.

Everything else is advertising.'' He, however, said the government was not the only constraint to free and responsible press. Much greater challenges to the freedom of the press comes from business conglomerates.

''My experience is that conglomerates hate the risk expense and the discord inevitable in investigation of any kind... the risk to loss of advertising, disfavour with authorities or with associated businesses and of course, any business in which the conglomerate is involved,'' the former editor of the Sunday Times, London said.

Earlier, echoing the same apprehensions in his presidential address, Mr Sibal said fighting agianst king and the ruling elite was easier for the press, but now in today's situation, the enemy lay within as democracy is a more complex system.

A free press unconcerned with democratic values could become a great danger to society, he added.

Later, replying to a question, he said he favoured ownership of media by public trust companies.

Sir Evans was accompanied by his wife, veteran journalist Tina Brown.

Paying tribute to Mammen Mappillai, Sir Evans said,'' he is celebrated for many achievements, but tonight, we celebrate hin as the editor of the great Malayala Manorama. He was an editor who stood for something beyond the numbers of circulation and revenue.'' The lecture was attended by a large number of veteran journalists of the Capital representaing a number of national news organisations.


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