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I&B Minister stresses on self-regulation by media; says no plans to regulate news websites

NEW DELHI

Newly appointed I&B Minister Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore today stressed on media adopting self-regulation and asserted that the government has no plans to regulate news portals and media websites. Dismissing the “government vs media” debate, he said his ministry would work in a direction where any media, whether public broadcaster Prasar Bharati or private channels, becomes the ‘voice of people’.

“The prime minister is very clear that the media in our country is one of the very important pillars of democracy and they have to self-regulate,” Rathore told reporters.

Rathore assumed charge as Minister of State (Independent charge) of Information and Broadcasting (I&B) Ministry after replacing Smriti Zubin Irani. He also holds the portfolio of Sports Ministry.

In Indian media, the I&B minister said self-regulation was done in various layers—first by a journalist and then by editors, and that the government believes in self-regulation by the media.

The comments assume significance in the backdrop of a controversial press release issued by the ministry last month on fake news. The communique was widely criticised by media organisations and subsequently withdrawn after Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s intervention.

To a query over the ministry issuing an order last month for constitution of a committee to frame rules to regulate news portals and media websites, Rathore said, “I think you have misunderstood it”.

He said Prasar Bharati will be strengthened and high priority would be given to “better and informative” programmes.

“It is not us vs them…It is not about two teams. It is about a collective responsibility that media becomes the voice of the people, whether it is Prasar Bharati or private network or channel. We will work in this direction,” the Union minister said.

In the last four years, Rathore, who was a junior minister in the ministry, said the government has been able to establish two-way communication with the people of the country.

“We will continue to do that,” he said.

On the challenges posed by social media, the I&B minister said the social media platform was “totally independent” and that there would be “all kinds of dialogues” in it.

We hope people put across their views with responsibility, he added.

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