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Centre directs SC to consider Digital Media prior to Electronic Media

The Centre on Thursday told the Supreme Court that it must consider regulating digital media before television and electronic media when it comes to laying down standards.

The Centre filed a counter-affidavit in response to a proposal by the top court to frame guidelines in relation to the airing of programmes with communal and derogatory content in the electronic media.

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“Digital media has faster reach, potential to become viral due to apps like WhatsApp and Facebook,” the Centre said in its affidavit. “Digital media has serious impact and because of its potential, the court must first take up digital media.”

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On Wednesday, the Centre also told the top court that 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 said. The government said electronic media is governed by earlier verdicts of the courts.
The Narendra Modi-led government also urged the top court to appoint Amicus Curiae or a panel to assist in informing guidelines.

The top court had observed on September 15 that the problem with electronic media was that it is “all about TRPs [television rating points]”, leading to more sensationalism. “So many things masquerading as rights, that in essence tramples Article 19,” the court observed, referring to freedom of speech and expression. The Supreme Court was also referring to media coverage of the Sushant Singh Rajput death case.

On Wednesday, when the counsel for the Press Council of India said that regulations were already in place, the court exclaimed, “Really? If things would have been so hunky-dory then we would not have to see what we see on TV every day.”

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