deep concern over the most recent developments in the media, especially the electronic media which has serious implications for media independence and freedom and are indicative of a systemic erosion of such freedoms.
The first person account of a senior television journalist employed until last week with a leading news channel alleging interference – covert and overt – by sections within the union government has reinforced growing concerns about press freedom within the journalist fraternity. Journalist organisations have repeatedly flagged these concerns over the past few years.According to the journalist whose account was published on an online news portal, he tendered his resignation along with two other colleagues, one of whom was the editor-in-chief of the channel, following indirect pressure to alter and dilute the content of a particular program in a manner that would not be perceived as being critical of the government and his unwillingness to do so.
Senior ministers in the union government had tweeted critically questioning the veracity of the said program which was being viewed as a form of exerting indirect pressure on the channel and its owners. While the onus on standing by the editors and reporters lies on the owners of media companies and not succumb to any pressure, any external interference – overt or covert – by persons in government that directs the working of the media and results in altering of media content can only be inimical to the functioning of an independent media and India’s standing as a democracy. Separately, the working conditions of journalists, in both print and electronic media need to be addressed from time to time.