The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Communications and Information Technology led by Congress MP Shashi Tharoor suggested that the Union government should establish a media council to check irregularities in print, electronic and digital media platforms and added that the fourth estate is gradually losing its credibility and integrity.
The 27th report on ‘Ethical Standards in Media Coverage’, presented in Parliament observed that social media platforms, like Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram, Twitter, etc. have placed journalism in the hands of the citizens. The panel also observed that the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology does not have a record of the number of internet websites in India. The panel also stated that the government should ensure code of ethics is followed in the digital media space while preserving the right to freedom of expression.
Observations on OTT platforms by the committee stated that the during the Covid pandemic, more and more people have resorted to these platforms due to closure of cinema halls. The committee is conscious that the information and content portrayed on such platforms can impact viewers, including minor children.
The committee acknowledged that the OTT platforms offer freedom to the individual user to decide what to watch, a freedom that should not be abridged by the heavy hand of government.
Mentioning about the latest ‘The Information Technology (Guidelines for Intermediaries and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021’, the panel said that it hoped that the new rules and guidelines would go a “long way in ensuring transparency and accountability for social media platforms with a robust oversight mechanism by the government.”