Trial by media: HC wants State to control TV news channels

HC wants State to control TV news channels
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HC wants State to control TV news channels 

Highlights

The Bombay High Court on Thursday said it was surprised to know that the government had no control over the electronic media and asked why television news should not be regulated by the State

Mumbai: The Bombay High Court on Thursday said it was surprised to know that the government had no control over the electronic media and asked why television news should not be regulated by the State.

The observation was made by a bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice G S Kulkarni while hearing a bunch of petitions that sought various reliefs related to the case of the death of actor Sushant Singh Rajput, including a direction to restrain the press in its coverage of the case.

The bench impleaded the Union Ministry of Information and Broadcasting as a party in the matters. It also directed the ministry to file a reply in court indicating the extent of state control that is exercised in respect of telecasting news, particularly such news that "may have serious ramifications".

The petitions, filed by activists, and eight retired senior police officers, allege, among other things that several TV channels were running a parallel probe into the case,and that they were running a malicious campaign against the Mumbai police through their current reportage in the case.

On September 3, another bench had heard the same pleas and had passed an order urging the press to show restraint while covering the developments of Sushant Singh Rajput's death case. On Thursday, senior advocate Milind Sathe, who appeared for the former police officials, told the bench that despite the order, TV channels were continuing with their slander against the Mumbai police.

The Union government, meanwhile, pointed out that the petitioners should have approached the Press Council of India, a statutory body which regulates the print media, and the News Broadcasting standards Authority (NBSA) with its grievances against the TV news channels.

At this, the bench noted that the NBSA wasn't a statutory body. "We are surprised that the state has no control over the electronic media. Why should it (TV news) not be regulated in case they may have serious ramifications," the bench said.

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