Minister of Information and Broadcasting, Prakash Javadekar stressed the need for media to exercise responsibility while carrying paid news. In Mumbai for a visit to Doordarshan Sahayadri, the regional channel in Maharashtra from the pubcaster, the minister said that while freedom of the press is paramount, the media too needs to exercise caution while using this freedom.
“Press freedom has not come easily. Editors of publications and journalists have served time in jail to ensure it. In 1975, when there were restrictions, even I had gone to jail. It becomes important, then, to be responsible with this freedom. Freedom (of press) entails great responsibility. I feel the issue of paid news is a serious one and needs to be addressed, not only by the ministry, but the media as well,” he said when asked what he intends to do about the menace of paid news.
Javadekar also reiterated his intention to permit private FM radio channels to air independent news and saidthat a decision will be taken soon. The minister once again expressed his desire to make Doordarshan and All India Radio the preferred choice of the public. “When the two were launched, they had monopoly. But now there is lot of competition. We want to get new talent and technology on board so that these channels become more appealing to the audiences,” he said.
He also mentioned the addition of a new segment on the MIB website where employees of Prasar Bharati and viewers/listeners will be able to voice their concerns and suggestions regarding the content on Doordarshan and All India Radio.
Additionally, Javadekar, who also handles the Environment portfolio said that the communication from the government (advertising) will see a marked change now. As a first, the next advertisement from the Environment ministry about desertification of States has been crowd sourced. The ministry called for entries for the ad and will chose one from the 700 dd entries itreceived. “The government ads are set to change. They will no longer be drab, but will be good to look at,” he said.
The otherwise upfront minister however preferred to keep mum on the recent issue around the non-government organisation Green Peace. “I do not comment on speculative questions,” he said when asked whether the body will be banned.