B.G. Verghese in Deccan Herald:
“As the year closes, one must with sadness and shame pen a lament for the Indian media…. We must lament a disgraceful fall in standards as revealed by well documented stories of the sale of electoral coverage by sections of the news media through ‘packages’ relating to the kind of treatment sought.
“What earlier seemed an isolated, low-level viral outbreak appears to have gained virulence and epidemic proportions.
“Alarm bells have sounded. The matter is too serious to be left to drift. Maybe the Press Registration Act needs review to entrench the position of the editor who is even now responsible for everything published, including advertisements.
“Can the law require public interest directors to be appointed to boards of all media houses from tiered panels to act as guardians of the public interest? The establishment of self-regulatory bodies for the broadcast media by no means precludes the necessity for mandatory broadcast regulations as found in every part of the world. This need not curb media freedom. Fast driving requires good brakes. Should ‘private (ads for shares) treaties’ be required to be mandatorily disclosed by the paper/channel concerned? Can the Election Commission compel separate accounting of all advertisements and advertorial support for candidates under election expense?
“These are obviously extremely sensitive and complex matters that impinge on freedom of expression. But when freedom becomes license, democracy is in peril.”
Read the full article: Lament for the media