Karnataka Assembly Forms Panel to Control Media

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Bengaluru, Mar 29: Days after Members of Legislative assembly launched a piercing attack on the media, a Karnataka legislature committee, on the last day of its budget session on Tuesday,  formed to study the quality of the content of print and electronic media, its “ill-effects” on public life and recommend regulatory steps.

The joint committee, which includes 13-member (10 MLAs and three MLCs)  of the Assembly and the Legislative Council, headed by Health and Family Welfare Minister K R Ramesh Kumar, was announced in the Assembly by Speaker K B Koliwad.

The committee’s terms of reference and other related issues would be finalized after due consultation with its members, the Speaker said in assembly.

After the members, cutting across party lines, brought the media in the line of fire, Speaker K B Koliwad had, on March 22, announced that such a panel would be formed to restrict the “permissiveness” of the media.

The working of the media, particularly the audio-visual media, had come under intense scrutiny of the legislators during a marathon debate initiated by senior member B R Patil of the Karnataka Janatha Paksha (KJP), as the members sought to haul the media over the coals.

The members who participated in the discussion alleged that the media was airing reports which were derogatory in nature and tarnishing the image of not only legislators but also the politicians of the state. They had also portrayed their personal “bitter” experiences with the media.

Accusing the media of working with “permissiveness”, the members had called for restrictions on it, even as one of them used objectionable words against mediapersons, which the Speaker said would be removed from the assembly on records.

Almost all the Members of the Legislative assembly who participated in the March 22 debate have been appointed as members to the committee. They include Congress Chief Whip Ashok Pattan, Congress members B R Yavagal, N A Haris, Shivaraj N Tangadagi, S T Somashekar, besides Bharamagouda alias Raju Kage and Suresh Gowda, both from the Bharatiya Janata Party, and Sa Ra Mahesh and Narayana Gowda of the Janata Dal (Secular).

The three members of the Legislative Council are yet to be named.

Meanwhile, Karnataka Higher Education Minister Basavaraj Rayareddy has written to Speaker K B Koliwad, requesting him to drop the idea of forming such a committee.

Referring to Jawaharlal Nehru’s famous quote “I would rather have an irresponsible press than not have a press at all”, he has suggested that the Speaker should make the editors of print and electronic media houses realise the sentiments expressed by the members and ask them to form a code of conduct which would enforce self-regulation.

In a letter, he has also suggested that the Speaker should call the owners and editors of print and electronic media houses for a discussion, and based on it, frame guidelines with unanimity on the nature of language to be used by the media.

The newly formed committee is likely to give its recommendations within three months.

Incidentally, the media was also blamed for being irresponsible four years back and more controls along the lines of Lok Sabha TV were sought — that was when members had raised concerns about how channels had zoomed in on images of 3 Ministers in the (then) Sadananda Gowda cabinet watching porn.