In the light of the allegations and counter allegations that are flying helter skelter involving the Zee media conglomerate and Naveen Jindal of the Jindal group, is it time for the media to grow more teeth to regulate its own wrongdoings?
Justice Markandey Katju, Chairman of the Press Council of India feels that the media council should have punitive powers to cancel the license if anyone is found guilty. He told CNN-IBN, " Broadcasters association is toothless. The media council, that must replace the press council, should have power to suspend the licence if they are found guilty."
He asked, "Why are the media people so afraid of the proposed media council?" According to him there would be no dictatorial powers within that body because a large part of the council would be members elected by the media itself.
"Press council Act should be amended. Power will not be exercised just by me. There are 28 members in the press council and all of them are equally powerful, " he added.
However, N K Singh of the Broadcast Editors Association (BEA), the body that cancelled the license of the Zee Business editor involved in the controversy opposed Justice Katju's comments. He said, "We already have a body that by dint of its own principle has flagged its own member. It is because of pulpable professional lapse, not criminal culpability."
N Ram of The Hindu did not welcome this move as a positive step but termed it as a "response to desperate situation". He said, "Who takes self regulation seriously? BEA's so called guidelines - rogue practices are not going to come to this. It (a media council) has to be set up by a constitutional authority."
Talking about the specific case of Zee-Jindal's alleged "sweetheart deal" he said, " A Leveson Inquiry (in the United Kingdom) like investigation should be conducted. Mr Zindal has many questions to answer."
Calling for a high powered investigation, he said, "This will be a tremendous education for the public."