The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting has informed the Supreme Court that if it is keen to begin an exercise to regulate media, then it should be the digital media instead of mainstream media, as it has wider viewership and also has the potential to turn viral.
The Ministry in an affidavit in the Supreme Court said while in a mainstream media (whether electronic or print), the publication or telecast is a one-time act, the digital media has faster reach to a wider range of readership and has the potential to become viral because of several electronic applications like WhatsApp, Twitter, Facebook.
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“Considering the serious impact and the potential, it is desirable that if this Court decides to undertake the exercise, it should first be undertaken with regard to digital media as there already exist sufficient framework and judicial pronouncements with regard to electronic media and print media,” said the affidavit filed in connection with the Sudarshan TV case.
“The media includes mainstream electronic media, mainstream print media as well as a parallel media namely digital print media and digital web-based news portal and YouTube channels as well as ‘Over The Top’ platforms (OTTs),” said the Ministry in an affidavit.
A bench comprising Justices D.Y. Chandrachud, K.M. Joseph and Indu Malhotra has stayed the broadcast of Sudarshan TV programme UPSC Jihad, until further orders.
The apex court has also indicated the setting up of a five-member committee, including people of commendable stature without having any politically divisive orientation, to provide standards for electronic media.
On this aspect, the Ministry in the affidavit said the present petition is concerned with balancing between the journalist’s freedom and responsible journalism, which is a field already occupied either by the statutory provisions made by Parliament or by the judgments of the Supreme Court.
“…In view of the issue having already received attention of the Parliament, as well as, of this Court, the present petition be confined to only one channel namely Sudarshan T.V. and this Court may not undertake the exercise of laying down any further guidelines with or without appointment of an Amicus or a Committee of persons as Amicus,” said the affidavit.
The top court will continue hearing the matter on Thursday.