Media can't be regulated in a democracy, self-regulation is good, says Venkaiah Naidu

M. Venkaiah Naidu
In an interview with PTI, the Infromation and Broadcastinng (I&B) Minister, M Venkaiah Naidu, said there can be no regulation of media in a democracy, adding, that self-regulation is good.

"In a democracy, in a free society where freedom of expression is guaranteed by the Constitution, you cannot have regulation of the media, this is my conviction," said Naidu.

According to Naidu, the social media is "going haywire" and while self-regulation is good, what is required is not a new bill but political will and administrative skill that is lacking at some places.

The minister, however, added that if at the end of the day, there are violations, there are laws of the land meant to tackle them. Freedom of expression is best utilised only when the value of such freedom is fully appreciated, he added.

"When this freedom is not exercised is judiciously, our existing laws provide for necessary interventions. We are not thinking of any new restrictions on any media. But the government expects all stakeholders to be responsible in using different platforms." the I&B minister said.

Naidu said further that the media should follow regulations that call for abstinence from anti-national preachings or those that propgate views against the interest of the country. The media, he added, should also steer clear of promoting aspects like obscenity, vulgarity, encouraging violence, etc.

"For mainstream journalists, there is some regulation by their organisations and management. But for social media there is no censorship, things go directly, he said.

"There is slowly a growing feeling (that the) social media (is) going haywire (a)nd we have to find ways and means to go about it. But at the same time if you start regulating media, the effect will not be positive. Keeping that in mind, regarding social media those laws (that are already in place) should be effectively and properly used," Naidu said.

Naidu said futher that there is a lack of poltical will in implementing the exisiting legal framework meant to tackle media excesses. 

"Media is so powerful and some of the politicians are so weak they don't want to use the law which is already available - Why should I quarrel with them? I say it is not a quarrel, as long as you are within line, you have every right, you must fight.

Speaking about social media, Naidu said it is an area of concern because it is immensely popular and while there are concerns about the unregulated content within social media, he emphasised that regulation was unlikely to bring any positive result.

Speking on what the role of media is, Naidu spoke in favour of factual reporting instead of opinionated news. As far as credibilty is concerned, he said news organisations should not identify with any particular party.

Citing his own experience in Parliament, Naidu criticised sensationalism in media saying, "If Naidu had torn some papers or gone to the Well of the House, then it becomes news. This is a development of recent years, which is bad," he said. Media should try to support the constructive, he said.

He said that social media is a new tool of communication with its own distinct features and advantages.

"It is spontaneous and interactive. Such a medium is both an opportunity and a challenge. While we believe in people taking full advantage of this new medium, we expect them to make judicious use of it in the larger national and individual good," Naidu said.

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