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Trai Recommends Steps For ‘politics Free Media’

By Expert Author: Srishti

The media today plays an important role in building public opinion. The recent concluded Lok Sabha election fought on the media turf. A fair portrayal of the Bharatiya Janata Party development plank and sustained media campaign got an instant acceptability from the general masses.

So media power in the technological era cannot be overlooked. If the media outlet is owned by politicians or religious groups, then they will try to show the news which is beneficial to them. The real news which people have every right to know will be distorted according to the ideology or the political affinity of the owner.

There are many media outlets which are owned by politicians today. What they are doing is to further their political interest. In a country where politicians are drunk with power, indulge in corrupt practices; it gets overshadowed when the media is reluctant to expose their own folks. There are instances where the media outlets owned by politicians try to fix up the rival parties with its baseless allegations and malafide interest.

“Ownership is a huge concern. How do you know that a TV channel operated out of Bhopal owned by a local MLA or MP is conveying the truth rather than the tinted version of the truth? This is one problem with political ownership,” said the TRAI chairman Rahul Khullar on Tuesday, while releasing recommendations on Issues Relating to Media Ownership.

Khullar aware of the corporate interference in the working of the editorial team said it has to be seen as to how much independence is enjoyed by the editorial team in a media house owned by them.

“On the ground of the inherent conflict of interest, the authority recommends that ownership restrictions on corporates entering the media should be seriously considered by the government and the regulator,” added Khullar.

The other problem plaguing the media is advertorials. The advertisements are being shown as the news item. Though the TRAI plans to come heavily on it.

Another measure includes regulation of TV companies which holds both channel and distribution system.

But media representatives have opposed any such move, calling the recommendations not in sync with the time. According to them, today all the media news is available through internet on desktop, laptop, mobile device and so there is no question of dominance of any particular media group. There are more than 900 million mobile users in the country and they access many newspapers, channels and websites on a single screen mobile phone.

As per the latest data, the total number of RNI registered publications (as on March 31, 2013) are 94,067, while the total number of permitted private satellite TV channels (as on July 28, 2014), is 798, of which 415 are news channels.

The issues raised by the TRAI are genuine and concerns the very welfare of the people in the country. There are no two opinions that the media houses get advertisements, because of their viewership, so they have a responsibility towards the general readers.

The people today are very aware and they understand the difference between genuine and fake news. So any attempt to befool the viewers will only undermine the reputation of the media outlet.

Another problem that is faced by the media is paid news. The problem is very stark and its contribution to the revenues of the media outlets is also not known to the concerned authorities. The TRAI has also made recommendations against it calling it a big threat. Media should understand they have worked independently during the period of turbulence and for miniscule monetary gains it cannot sell its conscience. The media organizations are run by the corporates, but editorial team should try not to be dictated by their employers and show news, which is in the best interest of the country and the society.

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