New Delhi: Censorship of information in the present age is “an impossibility”, Information and Broadcasting Minister Arun Jaitley said today but observed that aberrations like ‘paid news' are likely to creep in when news organisations do not have “realistic” financial models.
He said the definition of news and the behaviour of consumer have changed with technological advancement and “something that camera cannot capture is hardly news these days“.
Articulating his views on the media scene at a function here, Jaitley said, “One of the worries is that the financial model for all (news) organisations must be a realistic model. If the financial model is not a realistic model, then imperfections will enter. And these imperfections will lead to aberrations. Paid news is one such aberration.”
Paid news has been a concern about which even the Election Commission has been looking at ways to deal with.
At the same time, he made it clear that media censorship in the current age was not possible.
“Fortunately, there are very few dictatorships in the world. But even if there were, censorship, because of technology itself would be an impossibility,” he said.
Jaitley, who also holds Finance Ministry portfolio, said that in this age of competition and to gain more eyeballs, it may seem that quality is being compromised. However, he added that he had faith that in the long run, the best will succeed.
He said the rapid advances of technology in broadcasting sector have brought along their own challenges and it is difficult to predict the future horizons of this evolution.
With tools of information dissemination freely available, Jaitley said he had at times read his own speeches which he had never delivered.
In a lighter vein, he added that the “consolation” to him as the Finance Minister is that “at least one sector of manufacturing is doing well”, in an apparent reference to media sector.
Jaitley said social media is available to all and a correction only needs to to be issued on this new media which will spread like wild fire.
Talking about radio sector, he said it is witnessing a revival with the FM channels leading the comeback. He also lauded the quality of All India Radio broadcasting.
Jaitley recalled that in 1999, when he was a minister in the Vajpayee government, enabling provisions related to broadcasting were added to the TRAI Act which was originally intended for telephony.
”...And that was done by virtue of a notification. We did not realise the extent of convergence that would take place which would be essential in tariff fixation and other areas,” the I&B Minister said.
Referring to NDA's previous tenure under Vajpayee, he said at that time, a group had been constituted to draft or bring in a Convergence law.
“Then some wise people advised us that very soon you will have technology that will make this law redundant, should you at all have a convergence law,” he added.
Jaitley's remarks about attempts in previous NDA regime to bring a Communications Convergence legislation, come at a time when the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) under the Communications and IT ministry is learnt to be working for the creation of similar regulatory framework.
According to reports, DoT has been working on the idea of establishing a single regulatory framework for multi-faceted communications, IT and multi-media.
Minister of State for Information and Broadcasting Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore, Secretary (I&B) Bimal Julka and Chairman Prasar Bharati A Surya Prakash were also present at the event.