Indian Decade

Just Desserts for Indian Media?

India’s broadcast media has a tendency to sensationalize. But that’s no reason for government interference.

I’ve written regularly about the excesses of the Indian media, especially our over exuberant broadcast networks. That's not to say that 24/7 news doesn't have its merits—many of the scandals we see taking centre stage today are doing so thanks to the shrill reporting our TV anchors excel at. So for this, at least, we can be thankful.

Unfortunately, reporting in India too often descends into sensationalist trivia—or worse, downright bad taste. So does this mean we don’t have any right to protest over a recent note released by the Information and Broadcasting Ministry?

I&B Minister Ambika Soni has been less controversial than some of her predecessors when it comes to the media and she's always advocated self-regulation as the mantra our media should follow. But her recent note on this issue suggests that this so-called self-regulation code will soon be cleared by the Cabinet.

That a supposedly voluntary code of conduct worked out from within the industry should need state sanction smacks of censorship and will undoubtedly raise the media’s hackles. When all’s said and done, a media that’s prone to some excess is better than one that needs to check everything is OK with the government.

That said, if such a code really needs state vetting, maybe we only have ourselves to blame.