A Relook at the Emerging Media Policies



The department of Mass Communication and journalism at the  Madras  University had organized a two day seminar on "Emerging Media Policies" on March 24th and 25th, 2003. . Several eminent media personalities participated in the programme which was inaugurated by Mr Tirunavakkarasar, Minister of State for Communication and Information Technology, GOI.

During his inaugural speech, Mr Tirunavakkarasar pointed out that the Communication Convergence Bill is likely to become a law at the earliest. Mr N.Vittal the former CVC and Chairman Telecom Commission gave the Key Note address.

In the technical session that followed, the undersigned highlighted some of the areas for policy focus. A brief summary of the points highlighted by the undersigned is given below.  

1. The New Policies for the emerging New Media has become imperative since the existing policies are becoming dysfunctional and could lead to conflicts in the coming era where the Internet has introduced

  1. Website as a Professional Publication
  2. Web Blog as a Collaborative Publication
  3. E-Mail List/Forum as a participating  Publication
  4. SMS/MMS as Personal News Dispensers

The media convergence triggered by technology has also gained business acceptance because of cost savings and deep penetration of convergent devices such as mobile phones. Changing media habits of the Media Consumer has also made the New Media extremely relevant for media professionals. Just as the advent of TV s changed the consumer expectations on Print Media, the advent of SMS/MMS and broadband Internet will change the Media habits of the consumers.

Media policies have therefore responded to this changing needs of the market.

2. Some of the recent happenings in the Media scene have also highlighted why a new look is necessary in the policy front.

The ICC Vs Sri Lankan Broadcasting Corporation row over carrying the radio commentary of the Mini World Cup event that happened in   Sri Lanka last October highlights the need for the public interest to information to be preserved through legislation of the type we find in the Communication Convergence Bill.

The accusation of Hacking by Reuters made recently when its reporter picked up a press release from the Internet  raises an important issue  of when an electronic document becomes public while on the Net? and what is the consequence of accessing a web page not hyper linked from the home page but available by typing an URL in the address bar?

Future media policies need to address these issues.

The embarrassment faced by the Computer World which was fooled into carrying an interview of a terrorist only to be told later that the interviewee was another free lance journalist maintaining a honey pot raises the issue of authentication of e-mail interviews and the precautions to be taken by Editors and Journalists.

The Danish News Paper Association Vs Newsbooster.com case highlights the controversies that arise out of news aggregation and deep linking. These also need to be addressed by the emerging media policies.

The emerging media policies may also have to address the issue of  websites carrying information such as " Letters to Editors" or "News Stories of Public Interest not fully substantiated by independent investigation" just like "Publications" in the conventional media from the point of view of "Public's right to information Vs an Individual's Right to Privacy or Right to Protection from Defamation" .

3. While Information Technology Act 2000 has addressed some issues concerning authentication of Electronic communication, Communication Convergence Bill is set to address several other issues. However the recent passage of Cable TV Network Amendment Act 2002 when the Communication Convergence Bill proposes to repeal the Cable TV Networks Act 1995 indicates that some major changes will be required before the communication Convergence Act becomes a reality.

4.   One of the problem areas in the proposed Communication Convergence Bill is its attempt to make the Communication Convergence Commission both the regulator and the protector of Consumers. This dual role has inherent conflict and needs to be segregated.

5. Since the Communication Convergence Bill is an important legislation which   can happen any time, professional bodies including the academia should study the Bill in detail and suggest modifications as may be required.


March 25,2003

Related Information:

Text version of  the presentation.


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