Need for consensus on paid news: Ambika Soni

Soni on Sunday said there is need for a consensus across the political spectrum on ways to deal with paid news.

Kochi: Union Information and Broadcasting Minister Ambika Soni on Sunday said there is need for a consensus across the political spectrum on ways to deal with paid news.

Talking to the media at Nedumbassery airport tonight before leaving for Kottayam, she voiced concern over the phenomenon of paid news, saying it would "weaken democracy".

She said the Press Council of India`s report to the government on the issue would soon be tabled in Parliament.

The minister also said the "firm steps" taken by the government in the last one year to revive and strengthen the National Film Development Corporation, Directorate of Field Publicity and Song and Drama Division had yielded good results.

"The cabinet will be approached to remove media units under the I&B Ministry from the list of offices recommended by the Economic Reforms Commission to be closed down," she said.

Many posts lying vacant in the ministry would be filled up in due course of time with the Union Cabinet granting permission for the same, the minister said.

Soni said Indian Institute of Mass Communication centres would be set up at Mizoram, Jammu and Kashmir, Vidharba and Kerala and added that classes would be started in all four states in the next academic year.

A museum dedicated to Indian films to commemorate 100 years of Indian cinema would be ready in Mumbai by 2013, she said.

Later, inaugurating a function at St Mary`s church at Manarcaud in the city, Soni said her prayer was always for national development and promotion of good relations between neighboring countries.

She said various categories of people, irrespective of caste, religion or language come together at religious institutions. "This is the symbol of religious friendship which is needed in a country like India," she said.

The minister suggested that income from religious institutions be utilized for the welfare of people.

Speaking at another function to commemorate the first death anniversary of former MLA Mercy Ravi, wife of Overseas India Affairs Minister Vayalar Ravi, she said Mercy had always spoken for the downtrodden with courage.

"She was a broad-minded person with political sharpness," Soni, who also released a book on the life of Mercy Ravi, said.


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