Bring media under RTI Act – Beyond Headlines

News boyRight to Information Act 2005 is a milestone legislation in the recent history that is designed to bring transparency in our polity, society and economy to successfully check corruption. But resistance from the corrupt people in the higher authority is making it difficult for effective implementation.

Referring to the RTI Act, Union Minister Mr. AK Antony reportedly said RTI will help the transparency revolution to percolate down to all walks of life. He said, “The RTI Act will spread to new areas. I think every facet of human life will be transparent.” This is slowly happening in India under this act.

Nevertheless, we need to bring important institutions under the purview of this act. Media as an institution needs to be under the purview of the RTI act. There is and there will be resistance from media houses on this but in the largest interest we need to move in this direction.

Besides the ideological and political inclinations and affiliations media has, over the years, it has become more and more powerful with developing business interest. It has become an industry that is engaged in making profit. In short its turning into a business of what Noam Chomsky said “manufacturing consent” most of the time ending in creating perceptions which may or may not be right.

Sushma SwarajThe demand to bring Media under RTI assumes more significance when our leading journalists and channel heads are found brokering with the political parties and determining the fate of Cabinet Ministers to benefit their advertisers or sponsors. The Nira Radia saga has been a classic example.

Recently, a channel head was found guilty of demanding salaries for their employees to a Public Relations Manager.

Paid news is another blot on our media that is subverting the democratic process. Media exposés have shown that several organizations have been selling news space to politicians at election time, disguising the advertisements as news. The Press Council of India has set up a committee to investigate violations of the journalistic code of fair and objective reporting.

Press Council of India reported, “The phenomenon of ‘paid news’ has acquired serious dimensions. Today it goes beyond the corruption of individual journalists and media companies and has become pervasive, structured and highly organized. In the process, it is undermining democracy in India.”

Paid NewsAnother dimension of how media is threatening our democracy is the use of public money in creating wrong perceptions. The political parties, especially in the government are using public money to improve their government and parties’ image which might be contrary to the fact.

Sometimes this media relation exercise by the governments ends up curbing public sentiments and doing injustice with people. Many of the owners, editors and other journalists appear to have wealth excessive of their known sources of income. It is thus imperative that they not only become transparent but also bring “secrets” under RTI Act.

Other three pillars of democracy – Legislature, Executive and Judiciary – are already under the purview of RTI Act.

Corruption is rampant in media houses too in the name of paid news and public relation exercises. BeyondHeadlines, therefore, demand that media houses should fall under the ambit of RTI and it should also be included in the Lokpal bill. – Beyond Headlines, New Delhi, August 24, 2010

See “Who controls the Indian media” by Gautam Sen

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3 Responses

  1. The TOI story was obviously a plant by someone. In any other country, this TOI reporter Sandeep Mishra would have been arrested for spreading baseless rumours to increase animosity and hatred between two social groups. But in India, since the Congress party uses this paper to spread canards about its political rivals, it gets state protection.
    The question is: who gains in Orissa if the division between dalits and other Hindus is deepened and the dalits get alienated even more? Well, there are purveyors of religion of love who are operating in Orissa targeting dalits for conversion. Need anything more be said about the source of these kind of “dalit persecution” stories? In short, is TOI getting church funding?
    I am seeing a lot of these artificial / fake / trumped-up dalit stories planted in this news-paper every second day. The TOI owner is someone who does not exactly inspire confidence about his integrity, ethics or nationalism, going by his past behavior. I have found him to be quite a superficial, greedy and frivolous man with a mercenary outlook. ”Everything is up for sale as long as a buyer can be found” is his motto. He lacks intellectual depth to understand the burden of responsibility he is shouldering.
    When the Americans were putting pressure on the NDA government to open Indian media for foreign funding, this is exactly what they wanted to do. The church has now come into the picture by funding many Indian newspapers and news channels and they are now being used to implement the agenda of the White Man to create social turmoil in India. To add insult to injury, America itself has a blanket ban on foriegn funding into its own national media while it has forced India government to allow Western funding into Indian media!!
    Was Vajpayee smoking something when he allowed Indian newspapers to be funded by Westerners? How many of these shady investors from abroad are front companies of the church and CIA? Did Vajpayee not know that most media ‘barons’ in India are men of straw who will sell their own country for money, and that they will be glad to make their newspapers available to the White Man for carrying out propaganda against fellow Indians? There is a whole army of unemployed editors in India who are lobbying for Western funds to start news channels of their own.

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    • Well, I guess we shouldn’t be surprised at what TOI says and does. Allegedly Times Group is owned by Bennet & Coleman. Eighty per cent of funding is done by the World Christian Council. The balance of twenty per cent is equally shared by an Englishman and an Italian. The Italian Roberto Mindo is a close relative of Sonia Gandhi.

      This information is out of date (2006). An update would be really interesting.

      Yes, that stupid BJP woman allowed FDI in the media. What on earth could they be thinking? It is really an anti-national act! But the BJP doesn’t seem to be any different from the Italian party.

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