Regulate digital media first: Centre tells SC on guidelines for electronic media

The Centre on Wednesday (September 16) suggested the Supreme Court (SC) to look into regulating digital media before electronic media if it wants to lay down guidelines for media in the country. The Centre told the top court that digital media has more reach and impact that TV media.

“Digital media has faster reach, potential to become viral due to apps like WhatsApp and Facebook,” says the Centre’s affidavit to the SC.

“Digital media has serious impact and because of its potential, the court must first take up digital media,” added the affidavit.

The government also said there is “sufficient framework and judgments” on electronic media and print media. “The issue of balancing freedom of speech and responsible journalism has already been governed by statutory provisions and judgments,” it says, adding that TV media is regulated by earlier cases and precedents.

The Centre also requested the apex court to appoint Amicus Curiae – a friend of the court – or a citizens’ panel to assist the court in deciding on guidelines.

The affidavit filed in the SC is linked to a case against a private TV channel over a show that claims “Muslims are infiltrating” in UPSC and other government services. It may be recalled that show was put on hold by the SC on grounds that it attempts to vilify Muslims. “You cannot target one community and brand them in a particular manner,” the top court said on Tuesday, restraining the TV channel airing its “UPSC Jihad” episodes on the show.

During the hearing on this matter on Tuesday, the SC had expressed concern over the race for TRPs and “sensationalism” on TV and had said it would set up a panel to suggest guidelines for TV media in the country.

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