Regulate “Uncontrolled” Digital Media First, Before Television Channels: Centre tells SC

The centre’s affidavit mentions web-based digital media, “web magazines” and “web-based news channels” and “web-based news-papers” need to be regulated first.


New Delhi| The Supreme Court hearing of Sudarshan TV’s UPSC Jihad show is creating ripples outside the corridors of the judiciary. The Centre today told the Supreme Court that if it wants to venture into regulating the television channels then it first has to regulate the “uncontrolled” digital media. The Information and Broadcasting ministry in its affidavit to the Supreme Court said that Digital media is spreading venomous hatred and is involved in “deliberate instigation” of violence and terrorism.

It further suggested that the court should leave it to the parliament to decide the framework to regulate the television media. “There should be no guidelines for electronic media but if there are, it should be left to the legislature,” the government said.

The Centre’s reply came after the Supreme Court took up the petitions against Sudarshan TV’s “UPSC Jihad” program which reportedly suggests that Muslims have infiltrated the Bureaucracy, for hearing.

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This is for the second time that the government in its affidavit pushed for guidelines to regulate digital media. “Any further regulation of electronic and print media by this Hon’ble Court either by way of guidelines or providing for any redressal mechanism would incentivise broadcasters [who may otherwise be desirous of publishing / telecasting undesirable content] to use electronic media less and telecast/publish the same thing on digital platforms which would remain unregulated despite having wider reach without any corresponding responsibility or obligation,” Centre said in the affidavit.

The centre’s affidavit mentions “web-based digital media”, “web magazines” and “web-based news channels” and “web-based news-papers” need to be regulated first. The Affidavit says that such media run on video hosting platforms such as YouTube, Facebook etc, which are in lakhs and crores in numbers.” It also says that there is no eligibility criteria or qualifications that are stipulated. “No registration is necessary as of now nor any statutory provisions govern their functioning as of now except some provisions of the Information and Technology Act,” reads the affidavit.

“There is absolutely no check on the web-based digital media. Apart from spreading venomous hatred, deliberate and intended instigation to not only cause violence but even terrorism it is also capable of indulging in tarnishing the image of individuals and institutions. The said practice is, in fact, rampant,” Centre’s affidavit stated.



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