Govt should bring laws to regulate ownership of news organisations: Shashi Tharoor

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM — Congress MP Shashi Tharoor on Monday came out with a slew of suggestions, including laws to regulate ownership of news organisations by a political or business entity, to ensure responsible journalism and a free press in the country.

Speaking at the N Ramachandran Foundation award ceremony here, the Thiruvananthapuram MP said India was one of the few countries in the world where there were no regulations with regard to the ownership of media by a private individual.

“The government must introduce laws and regulations that limit control of multiple news organisations by a single business or political entity whereby encouraging a robust and independent press in the country,” he said.

Tharoor said media in India largely had a “cavalier attitude towards facts” and was “reluctant to issue corrections”.

Referring to his own personal experiences with the media and his decision to opt for legal recourse over allegations in the press against him, Tharoor said, “Once character can be assassinated even before the judge schedules a hearing of the petition seeking to prevent such character assassination.”

“Justice in our country moves at a stately pace far removed from the breathless breaking news speed of TV channels,” he said.

Therefore, it is hardly surprising that the trust in the media is eroding, he claimed.

He said the distinction between facts, opinions and speculation, reportage and rumour, sourced information and unfounded allegations, that is drummed into the heads of journalism students the world over “has blurred into irrelevance in Indian media”.

Tharoor said free media was the lifeblood of the country’s democracy and therefore, the press too has to reform itself.

“The distinction between facts, opinions and speculation should not be allowed to blur into irrelevance,” he said.

He said what was required was “better journalism”.

Tharoor further said if India wishes to be taken seriously by the rest of the world as a responsible global player and a model 21st-century democracy, “We will have to take ourselves seriously and responsibly as well”.

“Our media would be a good place to start,” he added. — (PTI)