Media self-regulation more lasting: J S Verma

Former Chief Justice JS Verma asked the media to restrict itself to "legitimate bounds".

New Delhi: With the leaked Radia tape sparking a fresh debate on media ethics, former Chief Justice of India JS Verma today advocated self regulation saying it was more lasting and asked the media to restrict itself to "legitimate bounds".

"Anything which is result of self-regulation is more lasting. I always believe in freedom of expression... but rights and duties are co-related," Verma, also chairman of News Broadcasting Standards Authority-- a self-regulatory body for news channels, said.

He was addressing a seminar here on "Comparative Perspective on Media Regulation and Society" organised by University of Oxford in collaboration with National University of Juridical Sciences, Kolkata.

The impact of media, particularly electronic media, is huge, Verma said, adding, "It just needs to be more circumspect."

The former CJI also complimented electronic media for exercising restraint and caution during the coverage of the Allahabad High Court verdict on Ayodhya title suits. "There
ought to be mechanism to ensure objectivity so that information does not get mixed with opinion."
He also said, "There should be no need for breaking news every second."

Verma said NBSA is planning to introduce a short training programme for young journalists with the help of National Judicial Academy in Bhopal to acquaint them about judicial matters.

Addressing the gathering, Additional Secretary in the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting Rajiv Takru said government is always for freedom of expression but every government has a responsibility to "protect people from harm".

The official said government was working on a model for self-regulation of entertainment channels.

Noting that government should be the last resort in regulation of TV channels, he said a self-regulatory institution must comprise people with "impeccable record and public acceptance".

"A regulatory body should have eminent personalities. Civil societies should be there. Government need not be there.
Selection of people must be very transparent and they should not be employees of the broadcasters," Takru said.

He said self-regulation is the best form of regulation "but market forces often lead to a behaviour which is at times not conducive.

"We have currently 607 TV channels in the country, with each one of them fighting to grab eyeballs," the official said.

Chief Operating Officer of Star TV Sanjay Gupta said self-regulation in the electronic media was key for its further growth.