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PM, Sonia inaugurate national media centre

PM, Sonia inaugurate national media centre
Highlights

State-of-the-art media briefing centre for govt Venkat Parsa New Delhi: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi on Saturday ...

State-of-the-art media briefing centre for govt

Venkat Parsa

New Delhi: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi on Saturday declared open the state-of the-art Rs 60-crore National Media Centre. The Centre is equipped with optic fibre internet and a mini-data centre for hosting live webcast, and is designed to serve as the official media briefing centre for the government.

Speaking on the occasion, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said, “Our communication architecture is aimed at empowering our people with quality information. Through the innovative use of social media, I am confident that our Government will address and strengthen the communication needs of an aspirational India and connect with our younger generations.” Congress President Sonia Gandhi, on the other hand, admitted, “Sometimes too, I have to confess that the media makes the political establishment uncomfortable. Perhaps this is because at times we are unable to put forward our own point of view more effectively.”

Envisaged in 1989 and completed nearly 24 years later, the National Media Centre was built on a 2-acre plot in the heart of Lutyen’s Delhi. The National Media Centre also boasts of a press conference hall, which can accommodate more than 280 media persons and a briefing room for 60 persons. It is Wi-Fi enabled and currently has 24 work stations to quickly deliver news in the fast-paced digital era. The Press Information Bureau is also planning to move all its archives into the new facility.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said, “At the end of the day, credibility is the media’s currency and is integral to its contract with the reader or viewer. There is also the question of a certain responsibility for social harmony and public order. I emphasize this particularly in the light of the social media revolution, which is rendering irrelevant the lines between a connected citizen and professional journalist.

A mature and wise handling of this phenomenon is essential if we are to avoid the tragedy last year that befell many innocent souls, who became victims of an online propaganda campaign and were then driven across the country to save their lives in their home States.”

Media should mirror society, help provide a corrective

Following is the text of Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh's address at the inauguration of National Media Centre:

"It gives me immense pleasure to be here today on an occasion that represents a milestone in public engagement. The inauguration of the National Media Centre is not only about unveiling New Delhi’s latest landmark. This Centre also showcases our ability to keep pace with similar state-of-the-art facilities across the world. It symbolizes the vibrant mood of the existing media landscape in our country. As a ‘Communication Hub’ and a ‘Single Window’ facility, I am sure it will fulfill the needs and requirements of our media fraternity, many of whom are present here today.

The exponential growth in India’s media sector began during the decade of the nineties. The media, not coincidentally, were among the principal beneficiaries of the wave of economic reforms that were introduced in the country during that period. Growing economic activity created the need for better and more intensive communication, which itself had a commercial aspect to it. A virtuous cycle came about in which the increased reach of media, both print and electronic, opened up ever newer markets, which benefited producers and consumers alike. In fact, I would like to think that the phenomenon of India as a world power in cricket has something to do with the fact that our electronic media are able to create and unite a huge block of consumers, reaching which is the dream of many marketing professionals.

The story of reform and liberalization in the media sector, which is a continuing one, is obviously a success story. The size of the media industry alone demonstrates that very amply. But the media are not merely a mirror of business activity; they are a reflection of the entire society at large. Economic reform and liberalization over the last two decades and more have wrought great societal change in our country. Our media have reflected this process and also been affected by the associated changes. I would even say that the pace of these changes has been so rapid that the documentation of its impact on the media has been somewhat inadequate. Technological advancements like the internet, telecom revolution, low cost broadcasting, social media and cheaper publishing facilities that exist today were inconceivable two decades ago.

Change inevitably brings challenge in its wake. Those of you who are the practitioners of the media industry have a very special responsibility to assess, tackle and overcome the challenges that two decades of socio-economic change have brought about. In a vibrant democracy such as ours, which revels in free enquiry and quest for answers, this is a significant calling. But there is need for caution while executing this responsibility. A spirit of inquiry must not morph into a campaign of calumny. A witch-hunt is no substitute for investigative journalism. And personal prejudices must not replace the public good.

At the end of the day, credibility is the media’s currency and is integral to its contract with the reader or viewer. There is also the question of a certain responsibility for social harmony and public order. I emphasize this particularly in the light of the social media revolution, which is rendering irrelevant the lines between a connected citizen and professional journalist. A mature and wise handling of this phenomenon is essential if we are to avoid the tragedy last year that befell many innocent souls who became victims of an online propaganda campaign and were then driven across the country to save their lives in their home states.

It is a reality that journalism cannot be divorced from the business of which it is a part. The responsibilities of a media organization are not limited to the viewers and readers alone. The companies also have an obligation to their investors and shareholders. The tussle between bottom-lines and headlines is a fact of life for them. But this should not result in a situation where media organizations lose sight of their primary directive, which is to hold up a mirror to society and help provide a corrective.

The media and civil society are an essential part of democracy and nation building. Now that we are at a decisive stage in taking our rightful place in the comity of nations, I am confident that they will not be found wanting in this collective effort to consolidate India as a plural, inclusive and progressive society.

I would also like to take this opportunity to reiterate the commitment of the UPA Government in fostering a free, pluralistic and independent media. Our initiatives aim to bridge the ‘Information Divide’ and to provide our citizens knowledge and information so as to equip them to respond to social, economic and technological challenges. Our communication architecture is aimed at empowering our people with quality information. Through the innovative use of social media, I am confident that our Government will address and strengthen the communication needs of an aspirational India and connect with our younger generations.

The National Media Centre is just the latest step in addressing the diverse communication needs of our country in the future. I congratulate the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting on this achievement and urge it to remain at the cutting edge of media innovation.

Well-intentioned criticisms are welcome
Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singhji, Shri Manish Tiwari, Shri Bimal Julka, Distinguished Guests and Friends,
It is a pleasure to be here at the dedication of the new National Press Centre. In any society undergoing dramatic and rapid transformation there is a constant need to renew and rebuild. This facility represents that evolution. I hope very much that it will become an effective nerve centre, an adda, and an information bridge between the government, the media and the people.
The modern world has spawned new media and channels of communication, many of which I must confess, people of my generation have a difficult time in grasping – at least I do. The old familiar habit of holding a fresh daily newspaper, with its crinkling sound first thing in the morning is now being overtaken by the onrush of colourful and vivid television images or the urgent and terse text of digital communication.
And, organized media, such as newspapers, magazines and television channels are now being joined by independent and unregulated sources of news, information and opinion, which are beginning to have a larger and larger impact as time passes. This facility must meet up to the challenge that is posed by these new emerging channels and technologies, because if not today then tomorrow they are certainly going to have a larger role in our society.
Yet, amidst this churn, one thing does remain constant -- the need to portray information, news and analysis truthfully, objectively and speedily. Not too long ago newspaper readers and radio listeners may have been a relative minority in our country. No longer. Almost everyone now has the ability to tune into one form of news media or other. The media, therefore, has a tremendous, almost larger than life, impact on our lives.
This imposes great responsibilities. Our media has evolved over the years into a vibrant and mature institution that cherishes its freedom and independence, and exercises it with a sense of commendable responsibility – at least most of the time. Its sheer diversity ensures that on balance it functions to benefit the institutions of democracy and the democratic foundations of our society. I wonder whether this could be because such a large number of women are now an integral part of this profession!
This is no mean achievement considering how contentious and sharp is the public debate on so many issues. Obviously, there has to be space in the public debate for conflicting and opposing points of view, and the Indian media certainly cannot be faulted for not providing this in abundance. Perhaps at times the language and dignity of media discussion can be found wanting. Sometimes too, I have to confess that the media makes the political establishment uncomfortable. Perhaps this is because at times we are unable to put forward our own point of view more effectively.
Today we should remember that the need to communicate and inform, is as much the responsibility of the government. True, media and government often disagree. The editorial columns of newspapers and voices on prime time news provide ample evidence of this.
But I venture to say that this can be healthy and there needs to be no intrinsic antagonism between the two. We welcome the watchdog role of the media and well-founded and well-intentioned criticisms of our policies and programmes. We recognize that there could be shortcomings that need to be highlighted.
At the same time, the government and the media have a shared interest in disseminating programmes, policies, decisions and information. This is where an institution such as the National Press Centre assumes importance. I hope that it will represent a partnership in which both sideswill be able to discharge their designated responsibilities. Let me be quite clear, we do not favour propaganda or publicity campaigns simply in order to score points for the government. But the people have a right to know their legal and other entitlements.
They have a right to information and they have a right to be able to make informed decisions. Only an aware and conscious citizenry can be expected to make the system work well and hold governments and political parties to account. In conclusion, let us remember that this beautiful building we are inaugurating today is not just brick and mortar. It is up to you, media professionals, officials of the Information & Broadcasting Ministry and others who will inhabit it to infuse life into it by making it an instrument to serve the public and empower them. I wish you all well in this endeavour.
India will be 6th largest newspaper mkt by ’17
Hon’ble Chairperson of the UPA Smt. Sonia Gandhi, Hon’ble Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh, Secretary I&B Sh. Bimal Julka, Principal Director General of the Press Information Bureau Smt. Neelam Kapur, Esteemed Ladies & Gentleman. First and foremost I would like to thank Hon’ble Prime Minister and Hon’ble Chairperson of the UPA for consenting to inaugurate the National Media Centre (NMC).
21 years after it was first conceptualized during the 8th five year plan (1992-97), the National Media Centre is finally ready to make its debut among the institutions that underpin our democratic edifice. I would like to congratulate all those who persevered to translate this vision into a reality.
While we have endeavoured to create a space we hope thought leaders, scholars, media professionals and people in public affairs would invigorate it into a vibrant institution that reinforces the core value of the idea of India. We live in an era of an information overload. The media landscape has transformed exponentially over the past 2 decades. This transformation has brought its own set of challenges to the media industry. India today mirrors the world in global cross media consumption patterns.
A very unfortunate collateral of this epoch making change is the print industry globally. It is distressing to learn that iconic newspapers and magazines around the world are ceasing to print. However India seems to have bucked the trend. The Indian newspaper market will be the only one to grow at a double-digit CAGR of 10% and would emerge as the world’s sixth-largest newspaper market by 2017 as per industry reports on media and entertainment. The regional and vernacular print sector is growing on the back of rising literacy and low print media penetration as well as the heightened interest of advertisers wanting to leverage these markets. According to industry sources, print has a combined market penetration of a ball park of 14% roughly therefore the print industry has the potential to expand its footprint and readership across the national canvas. This sector thus would be able to weather the shifting sands of technology at least in the Indian context.
The Indian broadcasting sector had grown from one channel in 1991 to 852 at the last count. After statutory rationalization the number now stands at 795 odd channels. While this has brought about plurality it has resulted in market fragmentation also. There are 15.4 crore TV households in India. Unfortunately the news and current affairs genre makes up only 7% of the total television viewership. (according totam cs4+all India weekly average for 2012). The remaining of this universe is occupied by general entrainment channels despite there being 395 odd news and current affairs channels.
This generates hope that there is an exponential potential for growth provided news broadcasters and Multi System Operators (MSO’s) are prepared to re-imagine their content and carriage paradigms respectively. In both the print and television genres the revenue model remains heavily dependent on advertising. To give consumers the benefit of better quality of service and correct the skewed revenue models in the broadcasting sector government launched a massive digitization exercise in 2012.
Another medium that till a decade back was considered a casualty of the tectonic technological shifts but now stands poised on the threshold of a new wave is radio. High mobile penetration and cheap call rates in our country has brought this renaissance into replay. While the UPA Government has more than walked the extra mile to create an enabling environment, as evidenced by the fact that industry reports indicate that the media sector has grown by a Compound Annual Growth Rate(CAGR) of over 9% between 2007-2012 and is projected to grow at 15% between 2012-2017.
There are however some paradoxes that all stakeholders in this sector must try and collectively resolve to find the elusive golden mean.
Yet another sector which has just completed a centenary of existence is films. This industry has grown but still has tremendous potential. As per an industry estimate, about 14 million Indians go to the movies everyday. The UPA government’s media philosophy has been an essay in persuasion and not an essay in regulation. While appreciating the role that various mediums of the media have played over the years, as we try and catalyze the growth ambience in this sector, it is my responsibility to flag the aberrations and gaps and see how they can be surmounted with the co-operation of all concerned to ensure that discourse remains constructive.
May I thank all of you for honouring us with your presence today morning.
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