Who will regulate the media? Government, an independent body or the Press Council of India? The latter, a toothless tiger till now, is seeking a greater role for itself with more and more incidents of media playing truant coming out.
While paid news and the Radia tapes showed the nexus that exists between journalists, political parties and corporate houses, extortion and blackmail (hitherto confined to the local dailies in small towns) has now come to haunt the national channels. The Zee-Jindal Steel saga, where journalists are heard in a sting tape reportedly negotiating ads for the channel in return for going soft on the corporate in the Coalgate saga, joins the list of increasing transgressions committed by the media. A few months ago, it was an abp News reporter, with the Delhi police lodging an FIR for extortion. To their credit, the channel immediately terminated the journalist’s services and even aired the decision for the sack as a news story.
In scale, perhaps the Indian media is nowhere near its UK counterpart in the misconduct stakes. The former can also take heart from the fact that several checks and balances, and a self-regulatory body, have worked reasonably well till now. The Broadcast Editors Association is also working on a regulatory code of ethics for its editors.