Jan 13, 2009

India - News channels urge PM to scrap proposed curbs

MUMBAI: Indian democracy will be damaged if the government decides to go ahead with the proposed curbs on news channels, leading broadcasters said late Monday.

Stressing on the point that media needs 'self-regulation and not regulation," 15 editors of news channels said in a letter to prime minister Manmohan Singh that “the proposed measures to gag the electronic media have caused immense disquiet in the journalistic fraternity and amongst all those who believe in the freedom of expression.”

The editors have sought for an urgent appointment with the prime minister and have urged Singh to immediately suspend the proposed measures.

Earlier, the ministry for information and broadcasting had recommended amendment in the law so that government can restrict news coverage during emergencies.

In their letter to the prime minister, who also holds the charge of information and broadcasting ministry, the editors have mentioned that "the media is the watchdog to keep democracy and democratic principles alive. If instruments of the state begin to regulate us, the damage to democracy and all stakeholders in democracy would be irreparable. It is all the more surprising that this is happening when you are directly holding charge of the ministry of Information and Broadcasting.”

The editors also declared that they understand that their right comes with responsibility to function according to the highest standards of ethics and national interest.

Finally, the editors have requested the prime minister to personally meet at the earliest and have stated that these measures "may for all times taint this government as one that tried to impose draconian measures on media.”

The letter is signed by Ajit Anjum (News 24), Arnab Goswami (Times Now), Ashutosh (IBN7), Barkha Dutt (NDTV 24X7), Deepak Chaurasia, Milind Khandekar (Star News), N K Singh (ETV), Pankaj Pachauri (NDTV India), QW Naqwi (Aaj Tak), Rajdeep Sardesai (CNN IBN), Satish K Singh (Zee News), Shazi Zaman (Star News), Supriya Prasad (News 24), Vinay Tiwari (CNN IBN) and Vinod Kapri (India TV).

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