Katju insists on statutory body for electronic media

New Delhi: Asking whether the electronic media was really free or under the control of corporates who have hired them, Press Council Chairman Justice Markandey Katju has insisted that he wants regulation of the news channels by an independent statutory authority free of government control.

Katju`s response came on remarks against him by the Broadcast Editors Association General Secretary N K Singh in an article. "You have given the impression that I want Government control of the media. Why do you twist my words? I never said that. I want regulation of the media particularly the electronic media by an independent statutory body, not the government," Katju said.

"Again and again I requested you to indicate which independent statutory body is the electronic media willing to be regulated by, but it seems you do not want to be regulated by anyone except yourselves," Katju further said.

In his article which he had also emailed to Katju, Singh said, "People like Press Council of India Chairman or other votaries of legislation against the electronic media are not wrong but they, having been highly enamoured by the majestic aura or being in the lap of state majesty all their life, disoriented when they advocate a control on media by the state or para-statal body."

Seeking to counter Singh, Katju said,"If you do not wish to be regulated by the Press Council,are you willing to be regulated by the Lokpal or any other statutory body? You claim self regulation. By the same logic, politicians, bureaucrats, etc can also claim self regulation. Then why should they be brought under the Lokpal?"

"You have compared yourself with Galileo, Jesus Christ and Socrates. Please tell me : did these people indulge in the scandalous practice of paid news, Radia tapes, etc," he wrote. "You claim yourself to be free. Are you really free, or are you really under the control of the corporates who have hired you?," Katju wrote in his email to Singh.

"You have stated in your article that "people like the Press Council Chairman having been highly enamoured of the majestic aura of being in the lap of state majesty all their life" are disoriented. Is this the language a gentleman should use?," Katju wrote in his email. "Should you have made a personal attack on me? But perhaps that is all the argument you are left with," he wrote.

Singh in his article which he had mailed to Katju had defended self regulation by the media. "The editors of news channels were quite concerned about this degeneration in news content. They huddled together to form the Broadcast Editors Association (BEA)," Singh had written.