Tag Archives: corporate media

Striving for plurality in Media – The promises and shortcomings of TRAI’s recommendations on media ownership: Smarika Kumar

Guest post by SMARIKA KUMAR

TRAI published a set of recommendations on issues relating to media ownership on 12 August 2014. A summary of the key points of these recommendations may be found here. But what do these recommendations imply for the freedom of speech and expression in India? This post is an attempt to contextualise TRAI’s recommendations against this question.

From No Regulation on the Business of Speech to Some Regulation on the Business of Speech

In its introductory chapter, TRAI says that the objective of its recommendations is to achieve plurality of views and opinions in media. It states:

The objective of these recommendations is not, in any sense whatsoever, to curb the media or deprive it of its rights – that, in fact, would be a disservice to the Indian citizen – but to put in place suitable safeguards that would ensure citizens the right to obtain objective, unbiased and diverse views and opinions.” (para 1.5)

This is a remarkable move because the idea of media plurality has remained contested in the understanding of Article 19(1)(a) of our Constitution, which guarantees the right to freedom of speech and expression to Indian citizens. The whole dance began in 1961 with the judgment of Sakal Newspapers v. Union of India, where the government sought to regulate the number of pages a newspaper could carry. Since such regulation would make newspaper prices of smaller newspapers comparable to big newspapers, the government argued that it would enable the smaller newspapers to secure larger circulation. One can clearly see how this was an attempt at enabling plurality in the newspaper business, so that the smaller voices are not stifled by the big voices.

Continue reading Striving for plurality in Media – The promises and shortcomings of TRAI’s recommendations on media ownership: Smarika Kumar

Mamata’s order that stoked the media war: Independent Observer

[This is a guest post by an independent journalist journalist and in Kolkata]

How difficult is to make a choice between the Caligula and the powerful senators who plotted against him, purportedly to save Rome from the populist-turned paranoid emperor?
The question comes to one’s mind in view of the ongoing public spat between Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee and a powerful section of Bengal media which has virtually likened her to a female (a non-libidinous also) version of Caligula. The row, that now involves pro and anti-Mamata media blocs also, has been triggered by a recent government order asking 2500 plus state-run and aided libraries to subscribe, initially, to eight pro-government newspapers —five Bengali, two Urdu and one Hindi— barring the market leaders in these segments. The circular of the state libraries and mass education department cited the ‘promotion of free-thinking’ as the reason behind favouring the chosen newspapers.

However, the issues involved are neither limited to Mamata’s increasing attempts to browbeat critical media as the aggrieved houses are complaining about nor her well-meaning effort to support ‘small’, resource-starved newspapers against their big brothers as she herself and beneficiaries of her patronage are claiming. A closer scrutiny reveals that there are more to it beyond the binary of Oraamra (them and us), now part of Bengal’s political and media lexicon after Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee’s infamous bragging over his government’s brute majority in the state assembly in order to rubbish all opposition to his policies. Continue reading Mamata’s order that stoked the media war: Independent Observer

‘Editors as Powerbrokers’?: Vinitha Mokkil

Guest post by VINITHA MOKKIL

The good news first. On the morning of November 26, the Foundation for Media Professionals (an independent, not-for-profit organization) decided it was time to break the polite silence and hold a panel discussion on the topic, ‘Editors as Powerbrokers’ at the India International Centre (IIC), Delhi. The Nira Radia tapes, whose transcripts were first published by Open magazine a week ago, was the trigger for the discussion. The panelists included editors from prominent print and electronic media houses.

The auditorium was packed. Clearly, the nexus between the media, politicians and PR honchos, as revealed by the transcripts, had shocked people enough to bring them out of the comfort of their homes to the venue.

Continue reading ‘Editors as Powerbrokers’?: Vinitha Mokkil