The Supreme Court on Monday said that it wants to ensure that the self-regulatory mechanism for monitoring television news channels is strengthened, reported Live Law.
A bench of Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud and Justices JB Pardiwala and Manoj Misra granted four weeks to the News Broadcasters and Digital Association to come up with a revised set of self-regulatory guidelines.
Last month too, the Supreme Court had expressed its concerns about the ineffectiveness of the mechanism while hearing a petition by the broadcasters’ body challenging observations made by the Bombay High Court about the self-regulatory mechanism for media. The court had said that the existing self-regulatory mechanism lacks sanctity within the statutory framework.
The High Court had told the broadcasters’ association earlier that media trials amounted to contempt of court. This was in context to the coverage of actor Sushant Singh Rajput’s death case by some news channels.
When the broadcasters’ association challenged the High Court’s observations, the Supreme Court noted that a fine of just Rs 1 lakh imposed by regulatory bodies on news channels for violating rules was hardly a deterrent. The fine, the chief justice said, should ideally be more than the profits the media organisations make from a particular show.
It had also issued notice to the Centre and others seeking their responses to the association’s plea.
On Monday, appearing for the Centre, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta said that the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021, address all of the court’s concerns. He said that the rules formulate a three-tier mechanism, with the first tier operating at the self-regulation level.
The News Broadcaster Federation of India, represented by senior advocate Mahesh Jethmalani, said that it was the only regulatory body registered with the Centre as per the Information Technology rules.
Jethmalani demanded that the federation be also permitted to file its own self-regulations.
“We cannot sort out your ideological differences here,” said the chief justice. “We do not want this plea to get lost in the cacophony of rival organisations. We will see their regulations and then see yours as well.”