New Delhi: After the government announced tough, new guidelines for digital media, prime time Thursday saw debates on the concerns it raised — ranging from Republic TV’s “super-exclusive” with Information Technology Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad to ABP urging viewers to listen to all sides of the debate and decide for themselves.
On Mirror Now, panelists expressed their worries over how the new guidelines for digital and social media could affect the freedom of speech.
Meanwhile, News18’s Amish Devgan focused on the UK court ruling in favour of businessman Nirav Modi’s extradition to India as he “congratulated” all Indians. On NewsNation, anchor Deepak Chaurasia asked whether the Popular Front of India (PFI) and the Students’ Islamic Movement of India (SIMI), a banned terrorist organisation, are on the same track.
First to Mirror Now and the new guidelines laid down by the government for social media companies, OTT platforms and digital news publishers.
According to the guidelines, publishers of news on digital media are required to observe the Press Council of India’s norms of journalistic conduct and the programme code under the Cable Television Networks Regulation Act.
Advocate Sidhharth Luthra asked, “The issue is that under the guise of controlling offensive information, isn’t it going to be a situation of breaching Article 19?”
Dhanya Rajendran, editor of the online news portal The News Minute, also hit out on the guidelines. “The way this is going to be implemented is very problematic. There is no clear definition of who the government is saying are people who cover news — and when the inter-ministerial committee comes (to review issues), it becomes very subjective,” she said.
Republic TV boasted of its “super exclusive” interview with IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, who attempted to dispel concerns over the guidelines.
The minister said, “We are very committed to freedom of speech and expression… social media companies are free to do business. But if any social media user has a grievance, you have a grievance redressal mechanism.”
He added, “Today, if it comes to our notice that some people are campaigning to foment terrorism in India, what should we do?”
Anchor Arnab Goswami came out in support of the guidelines: “We at Republic feel that it was required to ensure fake news, hate and offensive content to not go unpunished.”
On ABP News, anchor Romana Isar Khan urged her viewers “to listen to all sides and then decide and understand for themselves without any fear or bias”.
“The government has made it clear that a list of complaints every month should be produced. Every social media company must have an address in India and have all information of its users,” Khan explained.
She welcomed IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad on the show, saying: “I want to congratulate you — at least these guidelines have not been welcomed with a negative hashtag on social media.”
Prasad said: “140 crore people use social media in India. The motive of this guideline is that if anyone has complaints regarding posting of morphed photos, fake news and promoting terrorist activities, then the social media platform has to take action on his or her complaints within 24 hours.”
Deepak Chaurasia on NewsNation asked: “Should PFI (Popular Front of India) be banned nation-wide?”
He asked Major General G.D. Bakshi (retd): “Is PFI doing what SIMI (Students’ Islamic Front of India) did in India at one point of time?”
Bakshi replied: “This organisation is growing problematic day by day. PFI is walking on the same road as SIMI, both started as social organisations. If this continues to happen, then we have to take strict action against them.”
Chaurasia went on to allege, “There was talk that PFI had hands even (in) Shaheen Bagh.” This was a reference to the anti-CAA (Citizenship Amendment Act) protests in Delhi’s Shaheen Bagh.
On News18 India, anchor Amish Devgan proclaimed that PM Modi has fulfilled his promise to the people of this country as a UK court ordered Nirav Modi’s extradition to India.
“He was making excuses on his mental health but India was well prepared to counter them. Nirav Modi and his lawyer couldn’t fight,” the anchor said.
“Today, the Modi government has also given befitting befitting answers to those politicians questioning our government time and again,” Devgan said.