With opposition and media slamming action against NDTV India, Union Minister M Venkaiah Naidu today said the NDA government is committed to freedom of press but media should use it keeping in mind the interests of the nation and the people.
The Union Information and Broadcasting Minister also said the well-being of the country and society should be kept in mind before broadcasting or publishing any news, and stressed that news and views should not be mixed.
“A big discussion is going on in the country that there should be freedom of press. It should compulsorily be there and the government is committed to this. But, there is a need to think. We are citizens first and then the journalists. That’s my view,” he said.
“Our government believes in freedom of press and wants the media to truly appreciate the value of such freedom so that it is best used in the interest of the country and the people,” Naidu said addressing a programme for Urdu journalists here.
He said while giving/broadcasting news, oen should keep in mind the interests of society and nation first.
“The news you are giving should not promote clashes between groups, religions or create unrest in society. The news should not cause harm to the nation’s interests. There should be self-restraint (in following rules),” Naidu said.
Journalists should remember that freedom of expression is best utilised only when the value of such freedom is fully appreciated, he said, adding that when this freedom is not exercised judiciously, our existing laws provide for necessary interventions.
He advised that journalists must always look for information, but must run the news only after confirmation.
“Be nearer to truth and keep away from sensationalism. But what is happening in the electronic media is sensationalism,” he said.
Stating that there are some regulations that media should not preach, something which is anti-national; not propagate against the interest of the country aspects like obscenity, vulgarity, encouraging violence, Venkaiah asked electronic media and cinema should seriously think about how to avoid vulgarity, obscenity and violence.
He said, “The important thing in media is credibility… which is very important…but now credibility is missing in most of the media, which is unfortunate. We must always work for credibility.”
Emphasising that news and views should never be combined, Naidu said “But it is now happening in the country. People are trying to combine news and views, which should never be mixed.”
The minister further said information along with confirmation is the “best ammunition”.
“Information can fight corruption, inequality, discrimination, oppression. Information can give you entitlement. Through information people will be empowered,” he said.
“First give the news and then have the debate. but what is happening is, even TV debates try to mix both the things and then they argue and try to teach us also,” he said.
The Union Minister also urged journalists to first focus on truth and then focus on pro-people, rural people, weaker section, women and their views should be heard.
“You (journalists) have to reflect the reality of the social combination of the society so that you will be doing justice,” he said, adding that journalists must upgrade their skills and try to become “ideal” journalists.
“Urdu is a sweet language and it has also enriched Indian culture over the centuries, but unfortunately some people have linked it with religion in between. Time has come we have to encourage our regional languages…as a language Urdu should also be encouraged,” he said.
The minister also said that plans were afoot to increase the time of Urdu bulletin aired on Doordarshan.