India's democracy best for media: IB Minister

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Guwahati, Jan 22: Information and Broadcasting Minister Priya Ranjan Das Munshi today lambasted private television channels for not being responsible despite enjoying best democratic freedom.

''The business of breaking news and dances have now taken away all the responsibility of public service and national glory by these private television channels which are far from being responsible,'' he remarked. The union minister was speaking at the third anniversary of Assamese daily 'Dainik Batori'. Taking a dig at western and developed democracy, he said time and again the fabric of Indian Constitution and democracy had proved that the country's media enjoyed the best freedom, yet private TV channels had failed to fulfil their primary responsibilities.

''During Iraq invasion, the BBC had to lose the entire top brass for doing a story which did not go the way the British government wanted. There was not a single word of opposition in the House of Commons,'' he said.

''Now when Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was visiting China last week, in a Doordarshan discussion a panelist said that India demand the land(occupied) back. I got calls pointing out that the PM was visiting China and this visit was nothing to do with land. But can we sack the editor and the CEO for that without attracting opposition in Parliament,'' he asked.

He also castigated the television channels for 'overplaying breaking news'.

''When Shilpa Shetty got hugged and kissed it is breaking news but when the PM is giving away prizes in Vigyan Bhawan it is not news. When a minister slips and falls from the dais it is breaking news. I do not understand this frivolous game of breaking news,'' he commented.

He said Indian television channels had not been able to use the freedom enshrined in the Constitution.

''I wonder how Pakistani media is working responsibly despite so much pressure. They are good,'' he observed.

''Have you ever seen blood and flesh in the 9/11 footage? Why do we have to show all these in our television channels. When somebody is raped in Bhalagpur it is breaking news. Why should it be breaking news, why not a simple law and order news?'' he wondered.

He said most of the channels, in blindly competing with each other, had forgotten their basic duties.

He asked for introspection on the part of the media, a sentiment echoed by Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi as well as editor of the newspaper Radhika Mohan Bhagwati.

All of them were unanimous that the media was not behaving responsibly despite getting tremendous freedom.

''Look at the state of democracies surrounding our country. But India is different and the media should also grow and behave responsibly,'' he said.


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