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Communication is the basic human necessity and underpins all since it is the mode by which (1)people share information. It is the most effective skill possessed by a person and if put to a good use, can be the greatest tool in the changing of people's lives and paths. The free exchange of ideas and information takes place when the full-fledged dialog is unrestricted. It is protected by the "freedom of expression and speech", the most revered fundamental right. The right to free speech has an wide scope, including freedom of opinion, freedom to communicate information, Free access to information, and even the freedom to dissent democratically elected government of the state. The clause of freedom of speech and expression was enshrined in the constitution to ensure that each and every citizen of the country have their own voice and is not affected or clouded by the thoughts of any other person. It was introduced to increase transparency between the government and its people so that people can ask questions from its government without any fear and hence all this together will lead to establishment of a good government and a great country.
We can say that we have come a long way since our independence and the dream that the constitution makers saw of a good democratic government where citizens are well informed about political happenings are fulfilled to an extent, and the Media plays a very important and crucial role in the same. The media play an important role in raising consciousness about human (2) affairs among all people in a Society . The right to freedom enshrined in Article 19 of India's Constitution, Equality of speech and of expression, as one of six freedoms. Article 19 Expressly provides for freedom of the press, freedom of the press is a basic right Implied in the right to freedom of speech and expression.
The media has a momentous task of providing the general masses with information about the happenings of the state. They have the vocation of gathering and circulating information into the public. Hence this disposes a big burden on them of being attentive and have moral grounds, so that they refrain from spreading false or preposterous information. Therefore media practitioners should be principled and responsible in news broadcasting. For these reasons media needs to be accountable.
The general principle was that the press should not be granted absolute independence, as it might then create chaos. Therefore a need was felt for a punitive system. The idea of regulation arose from that logic. Overall there are four regulatory forms. The first, is a full control under which the media is not granted independence and the government maintains the autonomy, checks its contents, and can ask for amendments in the report. This kind of system is seen in Turkey, United Arab Emirates or China. The second is co-regulation, in which a non-state regulatory structure connects to state regulation similar to that established in Australia quite early. Then comes the legislative regulation, under which unique regulations exist. The laws are governed (3) and enforced by the State. The fourth type of regulation is the self-regulation, the example of which is India itself. The Press Council of India has a limited role and therefore India is often listed in the self-regulation list. In the self-regulation like legislation, the bodies themselves are being governed and implemented by internal policies. It includes the self- monitoring of the work done and making its own laws. The general idea was that if the press were to fall under government control it would interfere or intervene with freedom and sovereignty of the media. Self-regulation, to prevent this was seen as India's most desirable choice . A legislative body in India — the Indian Press Council (PCI)— governs the Print media conduct. The President, a former Indian Supreme Court judge, Heads over the PCI. It is a legislative, quasi-judicial institution (4)which functions under the aegis of 1978 Press Council Act.
The system of press that has been established has been quite fruitful and is serving well for an established democracy such as India but every system has its own drawbacks and problems when looked into the practical aspect.
The freedom of speech and expression or freedom of press is present in all statutes and Constitution but not appropriately practiced. The premise of Self-regulation means legislation of its own where the media lacks a governing body underneath. Reporters and publishers must have primary rights under freedom of speech recognized at the same time, and their findings should not be harmful to the functioning of the economy. Allowing the legislation go to the media themselves would create the possibility of subjugating regulatory priorities to its own business objectives. Cross-media control by major businesses, for example, was taken for granted. In early 2013, the Radio tapes leaked that exposed the shocking and unholy relations between politicians and journalists, lobbyists and business groups. Moreover the media today has now succumbed to just about publicity and TRP war between the competing channels and less about the authenticity of the news reaching to the people. For instance, if we look in the current scenario; the recent Shushant Singh murder case has taken a toll and as the case is investigated more and more by the officials, the Indian media is also constantly trying to spread information about the case recklessly without considering the authenticity of the information or the consequences it would lead to.
Media ethics is a topic of grave apprehension in general. Meanwhile, Equilibrium as regards editorial expression and the expression of journalists is to be maintained. The management and the officials have to guarantee reporters freedom and journalists to be able to report the news, as it is, without political pressure or management divisions. Competition has led the media to turn out to be increasingly working solely for public. Self-regulation will only be feasible if granted due acceptance. The press should remain committed to that and to it. Just the commitment and this commitment would offer some teeth to the Press Council. Press councils and administrative agencies have played a more constructive role around the world and its high time that the Indian media work for the good of the people and strive for what it stands.
1 G. Adams, John Foster et.al., Policymaking, Communication, and Social Learning: Essays of Sir Geoffrey Vicker 56 (New Brunswick Publishing, New Jersey, 1987).
2 Proggya Ghatak “Development of mass media and its extension in agriculture: a feedback review of audience research survey in air, Murshidabad, West Bengal” 21 Information and Broadcasting Journal 43 (2010).
3Press Council Act, 1978, s. 14(1).
Author- Aeshna Raghuwanshi, Content Writer, Legal Eagle.