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Subhash Chandra calls for unity among news media; urges fraternity to resist government pressures

The senior media veteran said Zee Media is not looking for partnerships now and spoke about the rise of online news content creators who have widespread reach.

Dr. Subhash Chandra, chairman of Zee Media, organised a ‘Media Meet’ on June 3 to discuss press freedom and the state of the news media in India. 

During the press conference, he revealed that Zee News was pressurised by the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) to comply with its directives regarding an interview with Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal. The political party also allegedly threatened to withdraw advertising if the channel did not comply, he said. 

The media is considered the fourth pillar of democracy, but the news fraternity is currently facing increasing pressure from the governing class, including the legislature, executive, corporates, and more.

There are structured attempts to align the media to achieve their political agendas. 

Chandra also highlighted that governments exert pressure on the media through advertising influence or the use of state machinery to threaten the industry. 

“Unfortunately, many news channels, newspapers, social media, and news platforms have started accepting this (pressure from the government) as part of life, instead of resisting or voicing disagreement,” he added.

He said that the media is itself responsible for the dismal state of press freedom in India. According to him, while the government bears some responsibility, the media itself is equally accountable for India’s low ranking on the press freedom index (India is ranked 159 among 180 nations).

“We should seek change in our news organisations, and accept the truth with courage. We are also responsible for this low ranking,” he said.

His advice for the media fraternity is to stand united and resist pressure from the government instead of being a fragmented community.

On May 3, World Press Freedom Day, Subhash Chandra released a video message expressing his thoughts on freedom of the press.

Based on the response from the media fraternity, he decided to conduct a Media Meet to initiate a conversation with senior members of the fraternity.

Highlighting the democratisation of news media and the widespread reach of news-based content creators, Chandra said, “In this digital era, everyone can become a news publisher without needing lakhs and crores of rupees. Also, in the current situation, influencer communities play a big role in news reporting.”

He also believes that traditional media houses are facing challenges as viewers are shifting towards digital media.

His advice for the mainstream news industry is to stay relevant by evolving.

The chairman of Essel Group will be returning to TV screens with his popular show The Subhash Chandra Show soon.

Commenting on the failed merger with Sony Pictures Network India, Chandra said that the media company is not looking for any kind of partnership at the moment. 

On the other hand, on May 31, 2024, Sony’s CEO Tony Vinciquerra announced that the company is exploring merger and acquisition oppositions in India following the failed merger with Zee Entertainment Enterprises Limited.

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