National Politics

Justice Nagarathna Says “We Want Free And Balanced Press In India”

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Supreme court said new channels are only driven by TRP(Television Rating Point) alongside they are competing with other channels and creating a divide in society

New Delhi: The Supreme Court stated on Friday that hate speech is a “complete menace” and lamented the absence of regulatory oversight over TV news coverage, stating that it wants “free and balanced press in India.”

According to the top court, everything is now governed by TRP (television rating point), and channels are in competition with one another and dividing society. It questioned why a TV news anchor can’t be removed from air if they contribute to the problem of spreading hate speech.

It said unlike for print media, there is no Press Council of India for news channels, and observed “We want free speech, but at what cost”.

After hearing a number of petitions asking for action to be taken against those responsible for hate speech occurrences across the nation, a bench of Justices KM Joseph and BV Nagarathna stated, “Hate speech has become a complete menace. It has to stop.
“Expressing concern over media trial, the bench pointed to the recent incident of a man allegedly urinating on an Air India flight, saying, “He was called names. Media people should understand he is still under trial and he should not be denigrated. Everyone has dignity.”
Justice Joseph added, “They sensationalise everything and create divisions in society because of the visual element. Unlike the newspaper, the visual medium can influence you much more and unfortunately, the audience is not mature enough to see these kind of content.”
He claimed that on numerous occasions during live debates, the anchors contributed to the issue by either muzzling panelists’ voices or preventing them from presenting an opposing viewpoint.
Action against the management of TV channels could be taken, according to Justice Nagarathna, if it is discovered that they are promoting hate speech in violation of the program code,”We want free and balanced press in India,” she said.

“In a live programme, the key to fairness of the programme is held by the anchor. If the anchor is not fair, he would not allow the counter view to come by either muting the speaker or by not asking the question to the other side. This is an insignia of bias. “How many times action has been taken against the anchor? Media people must learn that they are occupying positions of great strength and they have an impact on society. They cannot be part of the problem and speak their mind whichever way they want,” the bench said.


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