Wind up Press Council or revamp it: Parliamentary panel
New Delhi: Regretting lack of "effective" government action to tackle paid news, a parliamentary panel has suggested constitution of a stutory body such as media council to look into the content of both print and electronic media with powers to take strong action or revamping PCI.
Asking the I & B Ministry to act swiftly on the paid news syndrome, the Parliamentary Standing Committee on IT suggested either the Press Council of India (PCI) should be wound up on the constitution of the media council or it should be revamped with powers to take care of the print media, while a similar statutory body should be set up for the electronic media.
"In both the cases, media oweners or interested parties should not be part of the proposed media council or in the revamped PCI," the standing committee said in its report tabled in Parliament on Monday.
The committee's suggestion came as it noted the poor disposal status of paid news complaints by PCI wherein 11 of the 40 cases have been closed because of lack of pursuance.
It said PCI should function like a regulatory authority so that it can adjudicate the paid news cases and award penalties to guilty indivudials and organisations.
Paid news, it felt, has also acquired different dimensions and stressed on evolving a mechanism for a clear demarcation as to what is an advertisement and what is not.
"Clearly, the government has not taken effective and conclusive action to deal with the menace," it said.
The committee supported reviewing election laws and rules to curb the menace of paid news in election process and empowering the Election Commission with taking action against defaulting candidates and media houses indulging in paid news.
The committee also touched on the issue of cross media holding and monopoly which it felt was also contributing to the paid news menace, recommending that I&B Ministry and TRAI consider the issue on a "priority basis" and act promptly upon it so as to prevent monopolistic trend in the media.
Further, it recommended steps to improve the working conditions of journalists and autonomy of the editorial staff, the lack of which it said was giving rise to the paid news syndrome.