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Media content and regulatory mechanism (including self-regulatory frameworks)


Curator: Divya Srinivasan, B.A., LL.B. (Hons.), Student, National Law University, Delhi

Contributor: Kartik Chawla, Student, B.A., LL.B. (Hons.), NALSAR University of Law

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Standing Committee on Information Technology, Report on Issues Relating to Paid News, 47th Report, May 2013.

The Report acknowledges challenges in defining paid news, cites instances of manifestation of paid news. It also traces the reasons for rise in instances of paid news, the lack of powers with the regulators and need for regulatory overhaul, censures the MoIB for its failure to establish a strong mechanism to check for paid news, and noted the lack in effectiveness of the penal provisions and the concentration of media ownership. It also found the Department of Advertising and Visual Publicity’s existing policy amongst various media houses to be unsatisfactory. It takes note of the Justive Leveson Report and other international models, and asked the MoIB to consider the same.

Justice Leveson, An Inquiry Into The Culture, Practices and Ethics of the Press, November 2012

TRAI, Consultation Paper on Cross Media Ownership, February 2013

TRAI’s Consultation Paper on cross-media ownership issues, released after the matter had been referred to it by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting.

The Hoot, Kid gloves regulation – Part I, Feb 2012

A statistical analysis of the adjudication of the complaints received by the BCCC in the financial year 2010-2011. Though the article mentions the NBA, this part of the series focuses on the BCCC. It concludes that the BCCC and NBA have not taken strong punitive action against channels that violated the guidelines of the respective bodies.

The Hoot, Kid gloves regulation – Part II, Feb 2012

An analysis of the decisions taken by the NBA in the nine complaints that it took up in the year 2010-2011.

The Hoot, How effective is the Press Council, 7 Sep 2012

A statistical analysis of the work done by the Press Council of India in the 2011-2012, on the basis of its response to the complaints adjudicated by it. The complaints are grouped into two categories, against the press and by the press. These are further divided into subcategories; complaints by the press into harassment of newsmen and complaints of the press being denied facilities; complaints against the press are divided into Principles and Publications, Press and Defamation, Press and Morality, and Anti-National Writing. Concludes by questioning the effective of the PCI’s adjudication, and noting that most of the many controversies don’t even come up before it.

Journal Articles

Jacob Rowbottom, The Modern Law Review, Media Freedom and Political Debate in the Digital Era, July 2006

This article addresses the questions raised by the introduction of ‘new media’, to the extent of whether the normative approach to media freedom should be modified due to this, and if these modifications create a new norm the regulation of which should be approached differently. It summarises the traditional approaches to media regulation, examines some of the academic responses to the Internet, considers the increased opportunities for individual participation created by the Internet, analyses the disproportionate status of some organisations on the Internet, and discusses possible strategies of regulation.

Ujwala Uppaluri, The Free Speech Initiative, Bleeping out your Freedom – Broadcast Regulation for General Entertainment Channels, July 2013

Blog post analysing the process through which Indian GECs are regulated, the problems that have arisen in the context, such as issues arising due to parallel regulatory mechanisms, and a discussion of the Comedy Central case to highlight them. The author also discusses the concept of the subjectivity of the findings, disagreeing with the court’s decision on the point.

Robert Baldwin and Julia Black, LSE Working Papers, Really Responsive Regulation, 2007

Discusses the issues faced by existing attempts at regulation such as lack of clear enforcement objectives and the extent of ‘off the radar’ non-compliance and how regulators deal with them. Reviews the development of mainstream approaches to regulation, and the effect of ‘responsive regulation’ on that. Building on the same, proposes a new ‘really responsive regulation’, noting five more parameters to which regulators should be responsive to make a regulation ‘really responsive’.

Robert Baldwin & Sabrina Fernandez, LSE, Is Regulation Right, October 2000

Traces the history of how the public’s and the press’ opinion of the regulators changed from the seventies and eighties, and why they are almost uniformly hated. Uses the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 as an example of poor regulation, and traces the reasons for why it was a difficult regulation to design in the first place. Points out the difficulties in assessing whether a regulation is a good regulation or not, even by BRTF’s standards. Further notes some factors that have been suggested as important for assessment by the work by LSE CARR.


Delhi High Court, Indraprastha People & Anr vs Union Of India & Ors, 9 April, 2013

The Delhi High Court rejected the idea of self-regulation of media, and recommended that the central government form a statutory body to regulate electronic media.

Supreme Court, The Secretary, Ministry Of Information and Broadcasting v. Cricket Association Of Bengal, February 1995

Supreme Court case in which held that airwaves and frequencies are public property. Further said that since they are also limited, they must be used in the best interest of society and their use must be regulated to prevent the invasion of the rights of the public, and that this must be ensured through a central authority by establishing its own network or regulating grant of licenses to other agencies including private agencies.

News Articles

Index on Censorship, India’s media watchdogs discuss need for universal regulation, September 2013

Manish Tewari, Justice Markandey Katju, and Justice A.P. Shah discuss the question of media regulation. They spoke against external media regulation but spoke in favour of more powerful regulatory mechanisms. Justice Katju addresses and speaks in favour of the point of a regulatory body with ‘power to punish’. They highlight key concerns and give opinions.

Firstpost, Editors express concern over ‘bad journalism’, Jul 6 2012

News report of a discussion between leading media personalities on the topic of ‘Challenges Facing the Media Today’, wherein they expressed concerns over instances of bad journalism like insensitive portrayal of victims, and discussed possible solutions.

Mahima Kaul, Index on Censorship, India moves toward media regulation, July 2013

Newsreport and opinion piece discussing cross-media ownership in the context of a controversial interview by Rahul Khullar and TRAI’s 2013 Consultation Paper on Cross-Media.

Justice Markandey Katju, The Hindu, Media cannot reject regulation, May 2012

Justice Markandey Katju’s opinion piece on Media regulation, stresses the need for regulation of the media, and raises the point of that the right to freedom of expression of speech under the constitution not being absolute. Discusses commercialisation of media, paid news, self-regulation in the context of its failure, the failure of NBA and BEA, recommends that the media also be brought under the Press Council.

Anant Rangaswami, Firstpost, No need for regulation in media – it’s happening by itself, May 2012

A journalist’s perspective supporting the efficacy of self-regulation in press media, in the form of competition between newspapers, ‘regulators’ and ‘watchdogs’ like The Hoot and Newslaundry.

Suchi Bansal, Livemint, Parliamentary panel calls for media watchdog, May 2013

News report on a parliamentary committee’s recommendation to regulate the print and electronic media through a statutory regulator, and, to the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, to take action on cross-media ownership to prevent instances of paid news. Also discusses existing measures of self-regulation, such as the BCCC, PCI, and IBF.

Shakuntala Banaji, LSE, Regulating the Media in India – an Urgent Policy Priority, August 2013

Discusses the necessity of stronger regulation in the Indian media considering its current state. Considers the example of the PCI and if its powers should be extended further, but concludes against it.

Vanita Kohli-Khandekar, “Lessons from Leveson”, November 2013

The author compares the Indian and the British media, highlighting similarities and differences, and stresses the need for an equivalent of the Leveson Committee in India.

Vanita Kohli-Khandekar, “Leveson and the Indian Media”, December 2013

A more elaborated on version of the above article; speaks more on the Indian condition.

Aditya Kalra, Reuters, Media in India: Fine line between Regulation and Freedom, December 2012

News report discussing the status and circumstances of journalists in India, in the context of suggestions of statutory bodies with powers to cancel the licenses of journalists for the regulation of the press.

Lisa O’Caroll, The Guardian, Lord Lester warns against further state intervention into press regulation, October 2013

A news report of Lord Lester, leading Human Rights lawyer in the UK, speaking against the changes in media regulations being made in response to the recommendations made by the Leveson Committee report. He finds the system of statutes and a royal charter as unnecessary, comparing the new level of regulation of the media to the regulation faced by the East India Company.

Ruchi Gupta, Kafila, The Great Indian Media Hoax Of Self-Regulation, May 2012

Discusses the requirement of regulation of the media in context of its response to the Print and Electronic Media Standards and Regulation Bill, 2012, which is not available in the public domain, and the existing corruption within the media industry. Analyses a two-pronged approach to media regulation, which consists of the media defining its own code of ethics, conduct et alia, and an independent ombudsman for newspapers/channel above a predetermined threshold. Suggests that the Indian media should learn from the PCC.

Maneesh Chibber, Ban & Sieze, Congress MP Bill Out to Gag Media, May 2012

News report discussing the Print and Electronic Media Standards and Regulation Bill, 2012, a private member’s bill that proposed a draconian set of rules to regulate the media, discussing its salient points. The Bill is as of yet not available in the public domain.

Edara Gopi Chand, The Hoot, Penalty – An advisory, Mar 2013

A report discussing the effectiveness, or lack thereof, of self-regulation and the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting’s Inter Ministerial Committee for Broadcasting in regulating the press. Discusses the SC’s order to the government for the creation of an independent broadcasting authority, the subsequent steps taken by the government, and their failure. Also discusses the various ways in which the government has failed to put in place a systematic and time-bound complaint redressal process involving all stakeholders.


Peter Lunt & Sonia Livingston, Media Regulation: Governance and the Interests of Citizens and Consumers, December 2011


YouTube, IBN7’s Ashutosh v. NewsLaundry’s Madhu Trehan,

A debate between IBN7’s Ashutosh and NewsLaundry’s Madhu Trehan on the sensationalisation of a specific news report on IBN7. They both seem to agree that news should not be sensationalised, but differ on what exactly constitutes such sensationalisation.

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