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People scared of Fourth Estate, Doordarshan era much better: HC

People scared of Fourth Estate, Doordarshan era much better: HC
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People scared of Fourth Estate, Doordarshan era much better: HC

Highlights

HC asks Republic TV, Times Now to ensure no defamatory content uploaded against ‘Bollywood family’

New Delhi: The Delhi High Court on Monday asked news channels as to what needs to be done to improve the current standards of news reportage, while remarking that people are "scared of the Fourth Estate and that Doordarshan era was much better".

"People are scared about the Fourth Estate. Even if the issue regarding the privacy of public figures is diluted, you (news channels) cannot drag their personal lives into the public domain," said Justice Rajiv Shakdhar.

The court added: "Black-and-white Doordarshan era was much better, I feel."The court also questioned the news channels about the mechanism to change the way news reporting is taking place nowadays. "Even trained and educated minds get affected by such consistently misreporting. You tell us how should we resolve this?" the court asked.

The Court asked media houses AGR Outlier Media and Bennett Coleman and Company to ensure that no defamatory content is uploaded on social media or displayed on their channels, while hearing a plea by Bollywood producers seeking to restrain them from making irresponsible remarks.

In strong observations while hearing the plea, the high court cited the death of Princess Diana while trying to escape the media chase, and said there needs to be "some toning down" as people are "afraid of the fourth pillar of democracy" because of its powers.

The court sought replies from Republic TV, its editor-in-chief Arnab Goswami and reporter Pradeep Bhandari, Times Now editor-in-chief Rahul Shivshankar and group editor Navika Kumar, and intermediaries Google, Facebook and Twitter on the plea.

Leading Bollywood producers have sought to restrain them from making or publishing allegedly "irresponsible, derogatory and defamatory remarks" against the film industry and conducting media trials against its members on various issues following the death of actor Sushant Singh Rajput.

The lawsuit by four Bollywood industry associations and 34 leading producers, has also sought to restrain them from interfering with the right to privacy of persons associated with the industry. Justice Rajiv Shakdher was assured by the counsel for the media houses that they will follow the programme code and the Cable TV Networks (Regulation) Act.

The bench stated that it's not disallowing the news channels from covering news but is only asking them to pursue responsible journalism. "We're not saying that you cannot cover such news but we are (only) asking you to carry out responsible journalism," it said. The court also warned the channels that if they don't follow the Programme Code, it will have to "enforce" it.

The petitioners had urged the court to see that the defendants abide by the Programme Code under the Cable Television Networks Rules, 1994, and to withdraw, recall and take down all defamatory content published by them against Bollywood.

This comes in the wake of alleged use of words and expressions like "dirt", "filth", "scum" and "druggies", "it is Bollywood where the dirt needs to be cleaned", "all the perfumes of Arabia cannot take away the stench and the stink of this filth and scum of the underbelly of Bollywood", "this is the dirtiest industry in the country", and "cocaine and LSD drenched Bollywood" by these channels.

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