22nd September 2021

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Regulate digital media first

Responding to a court proposal while continuing to broadcast a program on Sudarshan TV; the Union government said on Thursday that the Supreme Court should establish guidelines that draw the line between journalistic freedom and responsible journalism for digital media first rather than the main electronic and printed media.

  • News portals on the web, YouTube channels, and Over The Top (OTT) platforms had great potential to go viral. Unlike conventional broadcasting and publishing, digital media was constantly expanding its audience, as loops, across multiple web and social media platforms such as WhatsApp, Twitter, and Facebook. So what was written or shown on digital media had “serious impact and potential,” the government said.
  • It responded to a court proposal to develop guidelines against pejorative and community content in the mainstream media.
  • The court raised the idea when “Bindas Bol” aired on Sudarshan TV on September 15. The program is accused of having “defamed” members of the Muslim community entering public service.
  • Lead attorney Anup Chaudhuri, who represents petitioner Firoz Iqbal Khan, urged the court on Thursday to disparage Suresh Chavhanke, the show’s host and editor of the channel, for his tweets posted after the suspension order.
  • “Mr. Chaudhuri, if he [Chavhanke] said anything, we will ignore it,” Judge Chandrachud replied, before postponing the case until Friday.
  • The court recently convicted civil rights lawyer Prashant Bhushan for ignoring his tweets.
  • In a separate affidavit, Mr. Chavhanke justified the content of his show. He argued that “there is no statement or message in the four broadcast episodes that members of a particular community should not join UPSC.”
  • The Center’s 33-page affidavit is not limited to Sudarshan TV. It focuses on the broader aspect of media guideline development. He said that digital media should not be overlooked at all costs.
  • The government reasoned: “While in traditional media [electronic or print] transmission / transmission is a single act, digital media has a faster reach.”
  • On September 15, the court highlighted that “journalistic freedom is not absolute.” Judge Joseph in court said:

“Journalists must be fair in their debates. We must remember that their freedom is the same as that of any other citizen ”. Judge Chandrachud spoke of how the media tends to cover only part of an investigation. The media have a duty to comment impartially. “Reputation and image cannot be damaged … The media cannot violate the standards they prescribe,”

Judge Joseph said.

Freedom of expression is not only article 19 (1) (a) of the Constitution; It is an article of faith for the courts and judges, because they know above all that it is essential for the functioning and survival of a democracy and that the government is accountable to the people.

  • Constitutionally, the courts are the defenders and protectors of the public right to freedom of expression.
  • It is a tragic investment to view elected judges as those who want to limit and summarize.
  • It is not for the welfare of the institution and those who run and depend on it, and that means a lot to us.

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