Pranab Roy on the evolution of the Indian media

I was reading this address by Pranab Roy after he won the Lal Bahadur Shastri National Award for Excellence in Public Administration, Academics and Management.

He’s talking about three phases to the evolution of Indian media. And I found it interesting to know how politicians influence the media. Here’s a gist.

Phase 1 - Exclusion: He claims independant media was excluded during the state media of DD days. Then you could not report about India. All you could do was report about the world news on TV.

Phase 2 - Intimidation: He claims in this phase after state control of television reporting was ended and private players could report on India and Indian politics, they used to get calls from powerful people intimidating them to change their reports. But he also claims he did nothing. And his reporting didn’t change. So did many other channels.

Phase 3 - McCarthyism: He says “McCarthyism is widely considered to be the darkest period in the recent history of the United States. During this period, put simply, the state apparatus, such as the FBI and the Tax Authorities, filed false cases against virtually every well-known journalist and hundreds of influential leaders in Hollywood. It was the period when America saw a “red under every bed”. Now, in a trend that started ten years ago - we in India are beginning to imagine a seditious, anti-national bug under every rug.”

And he claims we are currently in this last phase with Indian media. And believes it will change too and Indian media will be free and fair that it will show the likes of CNN and BBC how impartial debates and reporting should be done.

Hope we get to that phase soon. Any comments?

Just read this and I believe we are still in all the three phases plus more ways of news throttling though Pranab Roy may say otherwise. There’s exclusion, intimidation and also McCarthyism going on. And then there’s also the issue of state controlled media - the private media channels owned by politicians and political parties. But more importantly there’s this other side to the story where media by itself leans towards certain governments, politicians or ideology because of natural affinity. So I guess there can never be a truly free and fair media. It is always in the hands of the consumer to choose, analyse and inform himself in a free and fair way if that’s possible and worth the effort.