<> on Wed, 29 Apr 1998 21:27:01 +0200 (MET DST)

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<nettime> From Asia


NEW DELHI, April 27. 

Leading Asian mediapersons, newspaper proprietors, government 
officials and educationists have recommended enactment of 
legislation to ensure maximum transparency in the media to face 
challenges posed by "abuse of ownership and control".

They observed that the move is imperative to ensure greater 
accountability of the media to the people and to guarantee the 
right to information to them.

This is one of the several important recommendations made by them 
while participating in a three-day workshop on 'Media regulation 
for the New Times', organised by Asia's leading mass 
communication research organisation, the Asian Media Information 
and Communication Centre (AMIC), in Bangkok-Thailand recently.

The Press Council of India (PCI) chairman Justice P.B.Sawant, who 
presided over one of the sessions, emphasized that the arrival of 
newer services, including the Internet, and digital and 
interactive TV, had opened a wide debate on how the media should 
be regulated.

He said participants felt that in view of increasing demand for 
the right to information in Asian countries, the media should be 
transparent and accessible for information.

Experts acknowledged that the right to publish was an aspect of 
freedom of speech, and as such a fundamental right for every 
citizen. They recommended that given the public service nature of 
the press, efforts should be made to ensure effective 
representation of diverse sections of the community in the press 
and similar councils.

Press councils and similar bodies should have sufficient powers 
and resources to enable efficient and and effective enforcement 
of their decisions, they remarked.

A simple procedure of registration should be sufficient and self-
regulatory mechanisms ought to be in place to deal with 
complaints against unfair practices in the press.

"Where press and media laws inhibit and stifle this fundamental 
principle (right to information) these should be reviewed and 
liberalized to promote a free press," they recommended.

Freedom of information should be made an essential aspect of the 
relationship between governments, media and the citizens. "New 
technologies, including the Internet, can allow public 
information to become more widely accessible and at a lower cost. 
Therefore, governments should desist from perceiving these 
technologies as a threat but treat them as powerful tools of good 

The workshop noted that any attempt to devalue the independence 
and the role of the editor and the editorial staff, by any means, 
should be monitored and discouraged by the press council and 
other bodies.

It suggested that monitoring of press coverage by media-watch 
groups was crucial to ensure fairness about patterns and 
priorities of such coverage and that efforts be made to encourage 
and promote grassroots and specialised journalism.

On taking the media to the poor and the illiterate, the workshop 
called for initiating measures to expand audience choices, 
enhance open competition and transparency in the licensing 
process, strengthen professionalism and ethical standards in 
broadcasting and build a regional consensus on  content 

It also recommended that governments should set up clear 
priorities in formulating an Internet policy, and that laws and 
policies should facilitate and encourage development of 
technology infrastructure related to the Internet. (*)
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