Press Council of India’s new Chairman Markandey Katju wants the electronic media to be brought under the purview of council. He has sent a letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in this regard and sought “more teeth” to the council.
“I have written to the PM that the electronic media should be brought under the Press Council and it should be called Media Council and we should be given more teeth. Those teeth would be used in extreme situations,” Justice Katju said in an interview to a TV channel.
Describing journalists in general as having "very poor intellectual level", Justice Katju said that he had a very poor opinion of most people in the media.
"The general rut is very low and I have a poor opinion of most media people. Frankly, I don't think they have much knowledge of economic theory or political science or literature or philosophy. I don't think they have studied all this," Katju said.
Only last month, Katju had said in another TV interview that he would not shy away from using the "danda" to rein in erring journalists. “There must be some fear in the media,” he said, quoting Tulsidas' Ramcharitmanas that ‘bhay bin preet na hot Gusain’.
"I want powers to stop government advertisement, I want to suspend licence of that media for a certain period if it behaves in a very obnoxious manner, impose fines," Katju said while maintaining that all these measures would be used only in extreme situations.
When asked if these measures would not threaten freedom of the media, he said, "Everybody is accountable in a democracy. No freedom is absolute. Every freedom is subject to reasonable restrictions. I am accountable, you are accountable, we are accountable to the people."
Justice Katju said, “I have a poor opinion of the media” and added that “they should be working for the interest of the people. They are not working for the interest of the people and sometime they are positively working in an anti-people manner. It often diverts the attention of the people from the real problems which are basically economic.
“Eighty per cent of people are living in horrible poverty, unemployment, facing price rise, health care (problems). You (media) divert the attention from those problems and instead you project film stars and fashion parades as if they are the problems of the people,” he said.
“Cricket is an opium of the masses. Roman emperors used to say if you cannot give the people bread give them circuses. In India send them to cricket if you cannot give the people bread.”