16 Jan : In what could be a step backwards from its initial aggressive stand towards broadcasters, the government assured them that it will not curb the freedom of the media.The assurance came from Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who met a delegation of TV news editors in New Delhi on Friday evening.
The editors had sought his intervention regarding government’s proposed curbs on television channels over live coverage of terror incidents like Mumbai attacks.
CNN-IBN Editor-in-Chief Rajdeep Sardesai who had led the delegation of TV editors, told reporters after the meeting that "the Prime Minister has assured that he will do everything in his powers to ensure that news shown on TV is not compromised in any manner."
Sardesai added that the PM gave them a personal assurance that he would not allow anyone to control media as he believes in the freedom of press.
The PM’s assurance could be a setback for the government, which had taken an aggressive stand against broadcasters on the manner they had covered the Mumbai terror attacks and had started efforts to include stringent provisions in the existing rules to control them.
Expressing complete satisfaction with the meeting, Sardesai said on Friday "all of us are satisfied with his (PM’s) personal initiative and hope that this dispute will end today".
The TV channel editors on their behalf assured the PM that they will follow the self regulation code formulated by News Broadcasters Association (NBA) and will further strengthen it.
Other television channels represented in the meeting were News 24, NDTV, and Star News among others.
The meeting of the TV editors with the PM came amid efforts made by them to create a political consensus on the proposed amendments by the government in Cable TV rules, which if effected, would have made it mandatory for channels to show only "authorised feed" of terror incidents.
After the TV editors met a gamut of leaders earlier this week, including Congress chief Sonia Gandhi, BJP leader L K Advani, SP general secretary Amar Singh and CPI (M) general secretary Prakash Karat, the PM had issued a statement over the issue.
The statement said that he (PM) had received several representations from media agencies regarding the proposed changes in the Cable TV Network Rules currently under consideration.
He added through the statement that changes in the rules "will be made only after widest possible consultation with all stakeholders".Even Sonia Gandhi had assured TV channel editors that she would take up the matter with the Prime Minister.
Gandhi had also said that freedom of the press will not be allowed to be violated.