MPs concerned over paid news, content of news channels

Members from various parties on Tuesday expressed grave concern in the Lok Sabha over the issue of paid news and content shown on news channels with some of them saying there was need to regulate the media.

The government, however, said a self-regulating mechanism was the best.

The matter was raised during Question Hour with members voicing anguish over certain recent developments, including a sting operation in which two editors of a news channel were seen demanding Rs 100 crore from an industrial house.

"When some of our members were caught accepting money for asking questions during a sting operation, their membership was terminated. Their career was ruined. But no action has been taken after this sting operation. The licence of this channel should be cancelled," Lal Singh (Cong) said.

He complained that news channels show objectionable content.

Sharad Yadav (JD-U) said when a demand was being made to bring even the Prime Minister under Lokpal, accountability of print and electronic media should be fixed and the Press Council of India should be given more powers.

"Why have you kept such a creature (PCI) which has no teeth... A tiger (media) has been unleashed. The coal scam has been set aside... These channels are showing crude dances. Either give more teeth to PCI or close it down," Yadav said.

Information and Broadcasting Minister Manish Tewari said he shared the concerns of the members but after wide ranging consultations, it was felt that a self-regulating mechanism was the best.

He said an inter-ministerial meeting will be held tomorrow to discuss these issues. On the sting operation in which the two editors were sent to jail, Tewari said since a criminal investigation is on, the government will have to wait.

Tewari said he did not agree with the view that PCI does not have teeth.

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