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Conference on Media, Public Interest and

Issues of Regulation: Indo-UK Perspectives.

Submitted by:
Abhilash Philip
MA Communication
Reg NO 138 MC 124

A conference on media, issues of public interest and regulation will be held 3-4 February
2014 in Chennai. It is organised jointly by the British Deputy High Commission, Chennai,
PANOS and the Media Development Foundation, which runs the Asian College of
Journalism. The conference grew out of the need for clarity within the Indian media on the
best way forward on issues of public interest and regulation.
There appears to be particular interest in developments in the UK and the policy response
evolving there in the wake of the Leveson report. The conference seeks to bring together key
decision makers from the Indian and UK media and selected seniors from civil society. It
aims to discuss a range of themes, including:

Reconciling Freedom and Accountability
Issues of Regulation in the Media
Whistle blowing and Journalism
Opportunities and Challenges of the
Journalistic Ethics: East and West
The Future of Journalism

Reconciling Freedom and Accountability
Chair Justice K. Chandru, former Judge, Madras High Court
Mr N. Ravi
Editor-in-Chief, The Hindu; Chair, India Chapter of International Press Institute; President,
Editors Guild of India
Mr Shekhar Gupta
Editor-in-Chief, The Indian Express
Mr Maalan Narayanan
Editor, PuthiyaThalaimurai and Director,New Generation Media Corporation P Ltd.
Mr Marcus Winsley
Director, Press & Communications Group,
British High Commission, New Delhi.

Senior journalists representing every arm of the media print, television and
Internet and practically every facet of the profession editors, chairmen of
boards, members of the vernacular press, media persons from UK,
educationists, legal professionals and bureaucrats shared their experiences and
points of view with the audience comprising mainly journalists and students of
the Asian College of Journalism at a conference jointly organised by the Media
Development Foundation; Panos, South Asia; and the British Deputy High
Commission in Chennai recently.
Justice K. Chandru, former Judge of the Madras High Court and a frequent
contributor of articles connected with the legal profession to newspapers and
magazines, in his capacity as chair of the panel that discussed Reconciling
Freedom and Accountability, expressed the view that the two concepts were not
antithetical. There was a constitutional right to Freedom of Expression though
there was no special reference to press freedom, he pointed out, and said the
press enjoyed the same freedom as every citizen, subject to the same reasonable
restrictions put forth in Article 19.2 of the Constitution.

Different views on regulation

The discussion on issues of regulation saw experts like Stephen Pritchard, Sashi
Kumar, Krishna Prasad and Deepak Jacob presenting their views on various
facets of the subject. A.S. Panneerselvan, executive director, Panos, South Asia,
and readers editor, The Hindu, was in the chair. Explaining the roles and
responsibilities of a readers editor, Stephen Pritchard, who holds the post at
The Observer in the UK, and is president, Organisation for News Ombudsman,
said readers editors work independently of the editor and represent people who
buy the paper and appear in it. They stand back from the fray, listen to the
public, and act on complaints and comments, if necessary. Its all about
transparency, and from transparency comes trust. Making a solid business case
for accountability he said, If a reader trusts you, he will buy you, and a
readers editor, as proven by the experience of his own paper, also significantly
reduces legal costs for the media house.
Sashi Kumar, chairman, Media Development Foundation and Asian College of
Journalism, said while Parliament, the Executive and the Judiciary acted as
checks and balances on each other as envisaged by the Indian Constitution, the
Fourth Estate was not as readily perceived as accountable, and hence the
demands for self-regulation. If any of the other three estates were to impose
such accountability on the press, it would not be a free press anymore and as
such, the action would be tantamount to tampering with the Constitution, which
was the conundrum to be resolved. Expressing himself against government or
Parliament regulating the press in India, he cautioned that the wrong lessons
could be learnt from the Justice Leveson Report in India, and it could be used as
a tool by the Government to clip the wings of the press.
In UK, the debate of consumer vs citizen as pertains to the media was resolved
by Ofcom (the independent regulator and competition authority for UKs
communications industry), In India, we were still grappling with the two
concepts, Kumar said. Though the Press Council was mandated to ensure a level
playing field, entry levels, had been raised so high that only money bags can
start television channels, he said, comparing the present scenario with his own
experiences relating to Asianet, the Malayalam satellite TV channel which he
founded and launched in 1992.

Offering a different perspective, Krishna Prasad, editor-in-chief, Outlook, said
for one thing, the press was barking up the wrong tree when it talked about
regulation of the print media. It was the television and the digital media which
needed more attention in this regard. For another, he said, before the question of
regulation in content was taken up, there were other areas that needed to be
looked at. Ownership, education of journalists, recruitment and employment of
journalists and corruption within the media itself were some aspects that needed
close attention, he said. For instance, the question of corporate ownership of
media houses and the inherent conflict of interest there needed to be looked
into, as did the issue of cross-media ownership. Further, the vernacular press
seemed to be outside the loop of regulation, and could do pretty much as it
liked, he felt.
Deepak Jacob, president and legal consul, Star TV India, called for a light-
handed, stable regulatory regime. If television did not realise its own
responsibilities, the government would come down on it with a heavy hand, he
warned. Welcoming the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI)
recommendation to ban state-run and political party-owned TV channels, he
said he preferred a co-regulatory model

Issues of Regulation in the Media
Chair Mr A.S. Panneerselvan
Executive Director, Panos South Asiaand Readers Editor,
The Hindu
Mr Stephen Pritchard
President,Organisation for News Ombudsmenand Readers Editor, The Observer,UK
MrSashi Kumar
Chairman, Media Development Foundation and Asian College of Journalism
MrKrishna Prasad
Editor-in-Chief, Outlook
Mr Deepak Jacob
President, Star TV, India
Evolving editorial code and having internal ombudsman will help raise
Several editors on Monday advocated self-regulation as the best way to
reconcile medias free speech rights with its accountability to society. Setting
the ball rolling at a conference on Media, Public Interest and Issues of
Regulation: Indo-U.K. Perspectives, hosted here by the Media Development
Foundation (MDF) and Asian College of Journalism, Justice K. Chandru,
former Judge, Madras High Court, said accountability should come from within
the media.
N. Ravi, Editor-in-Chief of The Hindu, advocated both increased freedom
through liberal laws and a greater sense of responsibility and accountability on
the part of the Indian media by observing professional norms including
accuracy, fairness and sensitivity to social concerns.
Shekhar Gupta, Editor-in-Chief of The Indian Express, said there was no need
for any regulation as the media in India was hardly doing enough to be
regulated and journalists were largely careful about many things, especially [in
reporting] the personal lives of politicians.

John Lloyd, Director of Journalism, Reuters Institute for the Study of
Journalism, said any regulation of the media would have to be independent of
the state.
N. Ram, Chairman, Kasturi & Sons Ltd., said evolving of editorial codes by
media organisations and the presence of an internal ombudsman would help
raise standards and improve public perception of media performance.
Maalan Narayanan, Editor, Puthiya Thalaimurai, who held media freedom and
accountability to be interlinked, said the media was partly responsible for the
growing clamour for controlling or monitoring it.
Marcus Winsley, Director, Press and Communications Group, British High
Commission, Delhi, said the U.K. government passionately believed in press
freedom. Om Thanvi, Editor, Jan Satta, said favours accepted by journalists had
turned from small gifts to houses and plots. Media Development Foundation
chairman Sashi Kumar said call for regulation of the media was getting louder
because the other three pillars of democracy the executive, the legislature
and the judiciary were perceived as institutionally accountable.
Discussing Issues of regulation in media, Stephen Pritchard, president,
Organisation for News Ombudsmen and Readers Editor, The Observer,
highlighted the importance of self-regulation for the media and the role of
Readers' Editor.
Krishna Prasad, Editor-in-Chief, Outlook, said more important than content
regulation were issues concerning media ownership, conflict of interests and
trade practices.
President and general counsel of Star TV Deepak Jacob said television was the
most regulated medium

Whistle blowing and Journalism
Chair Mr Kevin Burden
Managing Director, Training Station and Independent TV
Journalist and Media Trainer

Mr Kumar Ketkar
Former Chief Editor, DainikDivya Marathi
Mr V. Sudarshan
Executive Editor, New Indian Express
Mr Ranjan Roy
Associate Editor, Times of India
Mr Bhagwan Singh
Executive Editor, Deccan Chronicle

From reconciling press freedom and accountability to whistleblowing, leaks and
journalism ethics, premier journalists in Chennai discussed a whole gamut of
topics at a media conference on Tuesday.
The conference on Media, Public Interest and Issues of regulation from the
Indo-UK perspective saw several prominent journalists from both countries put
forth their views and recommendations to the large collection of journalism and
news media students in the audience.
The third session, on Leaking, Whistleblowing and Journalism was typical of
the conference, featuring among the panel of speakers, Kumar Ketkal, former
chief editor of Dainik Divya Marathi, V Sudarshan, executive editor of The
New Indian Express, Ranjan Roy, associate editor of Times of India and
Bhagwan Singh, executive editor, Deccan Chronicle. The panel was chaired by
Kevin Burden, managing director of Training Station.
Speaking first, Burden set down the tone for the rest of the session, defining
what he believed whistle blowing and leaking were and how a journalist needed

to put them in perspective. Whether leaking or whistleblowing, the journalist
has to understand that they are both high-cost scandals. It is important while
assessing them to look at the quality of the news and the quality of the person
leaking the information.
The duty of a journalist to bring out information for the public good, sprinkled
with some measure of caution, was the recurring theme of the session.
Sudarshan pointed out that when dealing with bureaucrats, it was important to
remember that the instinct of the government was to hide information. But the
public deserves to know this information, he stressed. Peppered with anecdotes
from his experience, he also told the gathered students that news stories had a
tendency to be forgotten, even the brilliant ones.
It is not enough as journalists for us to get some good story and file a 300 word
copy. There has to be something more permanent to the story, he said while
describing his decision to publish his book on the negotiations that the Indian
Government carried out in Iraq to free three Indian hostages.
Ketkal also added that it was important that journalists verify their sources and
see whether there were vested interests towards getting the story out. The
greatest danger is a complacent journalist. Journalists have to take a lot of care
to verify the information and whether the leaker or whistleblower has something
against the organisation.