Coalition Governments Are Weak: Katju
Press Council Chairman Markandey Katju today said coalition governments were "weak" and not taking decisions to arm the media watchdog with more powers and bringing the powerful electronic media under its ambit.

Katju said he has written to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh seeking amendments to the Press Council Act, 1968 and has also met him in this regard.

"I have made my recommendation, but I don't think the government is taking any decision," he told a press conference here.

He said similar recommendations have been made in the past too by various former chairpersons of the Council.

"...But nothing has come out of it as evidently, the electronic channels are very powerful and a coalition government means a weak government. If there has been a strong government, it would have done it...The ball is in the court of the government.

Katju said the two amendments proposed by him include more powers to the body as it currently has only powers to admonish and censure, "which is hardly anything."

The other amendment is to bring electronic media under the ambit of the Council.

On the issue of self-regulation by the electronic media, he said it was not always sufficient.

Katju also said that he does not agree with the government's reported stand that self-regulation should be given a chance and said societies have learnt that laws are required where self-regulation fails.

In reply to a question on the Supreme Court framing guidelines for media coverage, Katju said PCI counsel P P Rao has submitted guidelines framed by the Council several years ago to cover court proceedings.

"We want that if the SC guidelines are framed, they should be in line with the one framed by the PCI," he said.

To a poser on SC demanding certain qualifications for reporters covering court proceedings, he said there should be no such pre-requisites.

Referring to certain objectionable pictures, he said some sort of regulation was necessary for the social media also. "Some material has to be filtered out," he said adding the legislative path was one possibility.

At the same time, he said not many bills are being passed in the legislature these days due to pandemonium.

He alleged the media has lost its sense of proportion by devoting 90 per cent time on entertainment and the rest on pressing issues such as farmers' suicide and malnutrition.

He was asked about a judgement he had delivered as a judge of the Supreme Court in which he had reportedly used the term "keep" to describe the status of certain women. Katju defended the term and said it was an appropriate term.
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