In a discussion on media ownership and transparency, hosted on Zee Business, Dr. Chandra spoke on the need for a proper regulatory framework for news media.
With a growing number of television channels, the critical issue facing the news media industry today is ownership and security licenses of these mushrooming channels. The industry is in dire need of a proper regulatory framework, to create stricter entry checks.
He said that media is a soft power which, in a large democracy like ours, creates public opinion so that the other pillars of the society like the executive, legislature, judiciary and even business, do not use the democracy for their own gains. The television medium is different from the print medium, as newspapers are read only by the educated class. But, being a mass medium, television has a far deeper penetration, reaching even the remote rural areas of the country and in their respective regional languages. Hence, it has a greater impact on the society.
The Reserve Bank of India applies the 'fit and proper' criteria before issuing any permission for new entities in the financial services sector. The criteria unveils the corporate whole and searches for sources of funds as well as the relationship of the promoters in a vertical and horizontal manner, as these services impact the finances of the common man. So, the question to be asked is, 'Is protecting the common man's mind from getting misled and polluted less important than protecting one's money?'
Elaborating further, Dr. Chandra said, "Today, ownership of media, particularly of news channels, is opaque. We should not be surprised if some of these news channels are owned by underworld elements. The need of the hour is to have a media council with robust media ethics and code of conduct, similar to the due diligence provided in the banking sector by the RBI."
Reiterating the need for transparent media operations, Dr. Chandra emphasised on "the criticality of the industry players coming together to raise a joint voice on these issues."