Concurring with an Uttar Pradesh court’s observation underlining the need for a statutory forum for the electronic media, Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy has said “it’s quite natural” to have such a mechanism when TV channels often compromise on the veracity of the news to improve their ratings. Kerala is home to a dozen Malayalam TV channels that air news and other programmes.
Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy told IANS that even though TV channels here have no permanent friends and enemies, they are under tremendous pressure to improve their ratings. “In this run for better ratings, they at times compromise on the veracity of the news.
Yes, when the print media has a statutory forum, it’s quite natural that the electronic media too should have one,” said Chandy. Of the dozen TV channels in the state, six are 24-hour news channels. There is fierce competition in the state which has high literacy and TV proliferation.
Rajmohan Unnithan, Congress spokesperson and a film actor, said that in the West, the ‘idiot box’ has been thrown out of the drawing rooms and in Kerala, that scenario is just round the corner. “The credibility of news channels here has taken a severe drubbing because it’s a free for all and already many have told me that they rarely watch news as truth on many occasions is compromised.
“Hence if there’s a way out, then some sort of forum should be in place if someone has to air their grievances,” said Unnithan who a few years back faced the music when news-hungry TV channels went to town after he was found in the company of a female co-party worker at night. Though he was cleared by a court of having done no wrong, the controversy still haunts him.
The Lucknow bench — of Allahabad High Court — of Justices Devi Prasad Singh and Ashok Pal Singh while hearing a petition filed by social activist Nutan Thakur said Friday that since no such mechanism existed for the electronic media, the union government needs to provide one.
Retired Supreme Court justice K.T. Thomas, who in the past refused to head the Press Council of India for lack of adequate powers, welcomed the court’s observation. “Yes, no doubt, there should be a statutory forum in place.
I wish the Centre will look into the directive and also rise to the occasion,” Thomas told IANS. Roy Mathew, chief editor of Surya TV of Sun Network, welcomed the observation of the Lucknow bench but cautioned that the forum should not be a toothless tiger. “What happens today in most cases is irresponsible TV journalism and the victims in most cases are politicians…
Many of these news reports do not have a life beyond a few hours, but the damage caused by them is irreversible and hence some sort of a quasi-judicial body is required,” said Mathew.