BBALLB (2nd year)
New Law College Bhartiya Vidyapeeth Pune, Maharashtra
Media is a tool used as a means of delivering information and data to the public. Media is a vast term containing print media, photography, news media, cinema etc. The Term media in its modern application relating to communication channels was first used by Canadian communications theorist Marshall McLuhan, who stated in Counterblast (1954)that : "The media are not toys; they should not be in the hands of Mother Goose and Peter Pan executives. They can be entrusted only to new artists because they are art forms." By the mid-1960s, the term had spread to general use in North America and the United Kingdom. The phrase "mass media" was, according to H.L. Mencken, used as early as 1923 in the United States.
The term "medium" (the singular form of "media") is defined as "one of the means or channels of general communication, information, or entertainment in society, as newspapers, radio, or television."
WHAT IS MEANT BY MEDIA INDEPENDENCE?
Media independence refers to the absence of any kind of interference from any external source or authority in the media. The term basically means, the sense of independence and the ability to see things and take decisions from the media itself rather than following orders or working for someone else. The basic aim of media independence is delivering the news or information to the public or the audience in the rawest form without the interruption or the influence of any external authority. Two main factors which influence media independence are the disruption and interference of political authorities which tend to fund the publication and the broadcasting channels. An indicator of the lack of independence is the level of public trust in the credibility of journalism. According to the Edelman Trust Barometer, trust in media seems to be declining. Since 2012 the online platforms started taking over the other platforms and have started gaining more trust of the public, due to the presentation of the news in the rawest form. The second main factor influencing the media independence are the regulatory authorities and the particular social beliefs of those authorities which makes them biased and the news more diluted. In order to ensure media independence, regulatory authorities should be placed outside of government directives, which can be measured through legislation, rules etc.
WHY IS IT IMPORTANT? Independence of media is a crucial topic these days, which needs to be looked after so that the true facts of any issue could be delivered to the audience without any external interference. According to the first World Trends Report published in 2014, media independence is under great pressure due to the complex interconnections between the Political parties and the regulatory authorities, the increasing pressure of political parties has affected the media in a lot of ways which has made them less trustworthy in the eyes of the audience. Almost 70% of the media publication houses, never address any issue regarding their trustees or the political parties funding them, which has made this field corrupted. Not having an independent media is a threat to the country, if the media houses are not functioning independently then they run the risk of one-dimensional news . If the media is going to speak in the same voice, same language of which they are dependent on, it will not only affect the ideologies of a large number of people but will also infringe their right to information, making the whole country less democratic. Only providing a limited amount of information to the public is equivalent to hiding the actual truth from them, and today’s generation demands proof of everything and needs an explanation of every step taken and wants to hear that how is it beneficial for the whole country, in such a time having an independent media house which addresses all the issues irrespective of the people involved or the parties involved is very important.
SITUATION OF MEDIA INDEPENDENCE IN INDIA –
Media in India is not as free as it seems to be, due to the increasing political connections and their pressures, the truth is not displayed in front of the audience and in this the ruling party plays an important role. It is often observed that after the Modi government championed a landslide win against the opposition in the elections , the media preference has dipped towards the ruling party and seems to hide
• The signs have been clear for some time now. During the Prime Minister’s initial five years in office, his administration appeared to get a free pass from the nation's malleable media. In November 2016, when the government unexpectedly recalled 86 percent of the nation's money to battle corruption, he said at the time that numerous compelling news sources neglected to pose significant questions.
In each of these cases, mainstream media and especially the country’s influential news channels functioned largely as the governments mouthpiece, with only a few exceptions. Perhaps the best example of how journalists have become accustomed to not challenging the government is the fact that the Prime Minister failed to hold a single press conference in his first term. 4On May 17, days before he was reelected, Prime Minister Modi invited the press to his party headquarters and delivered a prepared speech. Amit Shah, the then-president of the Bhartiya Janata Party, fielded questions from reporters as Modi looked on. During both the state and national elections over the last five years, television news channels frequently carried live campaign speeches by Modi without challenging his assertions. If a steady amount of freedom will not be granted to the media in the future, it will start becoming less trustworthy and more of a corrupted field.
WORLD PRESS FREEDOM INDEX 2020 –
The press freedom index depicts the annual ranking of the countries based on the freedom possessed by the journalists and the media of that country and the efforts made by the authorities to save the freedom of their media. The survey is published by the ‘Reporters Without Borders’ based upon their own assessment of the countries press freedom. The report is partly based on a questionnaire round , which asks questions regarding six general criteria , which includes Pluralism , Media Independence , Environment and Self – Censorship , Legislative Framework, Transparency and Infrastructure . The organization takes account of the legal framework of countries and the amount of freedom the media enjoys at that particular time. According to a report published in 2020 –
• Norway has topped the chart followed by Finland and Denmark.
• Whereas Australia and USA managed to secure position at 26th and 45th place respectively.
• India lacked behind by a large number from all these countries by falling on the 142nd position, whereas Pakistan secured 145th position in the report of 2020.
India’s rank went from 122 in 2010 to 142 in 2020, nearly 20 places down in 10 years. Viciousness against columnists including police savagery, assaults by Maoist contenders and responses by criminal gatherings or degenerate government officials is one of the most striking attributes of the present status of press opportunity in India which influences the Indian press a great deal. At least six Indian columnists were killed regarding their work in 2018. The political associations and the specific political connections of the distribution houses takes the media autonomy levels to zero. This dropping position of our nation is a significant worry in today's time.
A MEDIA INDEPENDENT NORWAY –
According to the world press freedom index ,2020 Norway has been ranked at the first position by Reporters Without Borders. Most of the press houses in Norway are privately owned and self-regulated however the state provides the press support
• The two companies dominating the Norwegian broadcast television are the government owned NRK and the privately owned TV2.
• Facebook is the most used social media platform used by Norwegians to exchange news on a daily basis.
• National radio services are dominated by the public service company NRK which looks after the radio and has control over it, other than this there are many privately owned radio stations and local stations which streams in Norway.
The dropping rank of India and the increasing distrust of the audience in the media is a big concern , if not put in control now it will drastically change the sphere of media in the eyes of the world and India would become a country where media independence is a myth. The only difference spotted between the media houses of Norway and India, is the interference of the government and the boosted number of privately owned channels with zero external influence. The need of the hour is certain changes to save the freedom of media, which would be beneficial for both the country and the media itself.