‘CAG’s figure of Rs 1.76 lakh crore fuelled perception of corruption. Last week’s auction has demolished that’

The Idea Exchange

M K Venu: There are cross-media restrictions in liberal democracies. What about here?

That is another matter referred to TRAI. I do not think it is correct for the government to intervene. The fundamental issue is that a free media is important for a free democracy. Liberal societies do have cross media restrictions. Let TRAI go through the process. But if something impinges on the freedom of the media or expression, we would still be very careful, even if there is a consensus amongst the stakeholders.

Subhomoy Bhattacharjee: You've got a winter session of Parliament ahead. Which are the debates you think Rahul Gandhi would like to participate in?

That's something best left to an individual's judgment. But a far more important question emerges and I would like to appeal to various stakeholders of the parliamentary process to please allow Parliament to function. The government has a legislative agenda. You may agree with it, you may disagree—you are entitled to do that. There are other important issues that require discussion so let's not totally subvert parliamentary processes by letting another session get wiped out.

Y P Rajesh: Is there a need for a ministry such as Information and Broadcasting?

Look at the alternatives. You have a ministry of I&B, however archaic its structure might be, but which over a period of time, seems to have got the nuances fairly right. It is to a very large extent, hands-off. If you were to abolish the ministry, what would you replace it with? This whole bit of a regulator brings to mind a big brother spectre that I think is not a route we should be going down.

Archna Shukla: But that 'spectre' already exists. There is a perception that the ministry does control and influence media. Press Council chairman Markandey Katju recently said that he would want TV channels to come under the Press Council so that he could ask the government to withdraw government advertisements from channels that are seen as a 'nuisance'.

... contd.

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