New Delhi: The Press Council of India (PCI) on Tuesday said it is in talks with all other South Asian countries to form an alliance of their press and media councils in a bid to promote peace and fair and fearless journalism.
PCI said representatives from Bangladesh, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka have confirmed their participation for the alliance. However, PCI chairman Justice C.K. Prasad said, “We had invited Pakistan in July and as of now, we don’t know if they are coming.” Afghanistan and Bhutan will be represented by their embassies since the two countries don’t have a press or media council.
“A draft constitution and draft MoU (memorandum of understanding) have already been circulated among the member states earlier and has been welcomed by all,” PCI said in a statement.
Representatives from all the member countries will meet on 16 November to discuss the draft constitution and further the process.
The alliance will be headquartered in New Delhi and will soon be extended to South East Asia and other regions of the sub-continent. “This alliance will aim to promote best and ethical journalism practice, will have shared programmes between journalists of various countries among other things. It is still at a nascent stage and we will decide on the final constitution after our meetings,” said Prasad.
PCI will also sign a bilateral agreement with the Bangladesh Press Council and is also planning to sign an MoU with Myanmar. “Press council delegations of India and Bangladesh visited each other’s country and even signed a joint statement for more co-operation in press,” PCI said.
PCI was set up to preserve the freedom of the press and to maintain and improve the standards of newspapers and news agencies in India. The body can only inquire the complaints against newspapers and journalists if it has “reasons to believe that a newspaper or news agency has offended against the standards of journalistic ethics or public taste or that an editor or working journalist has committed any professional misconduct”.
The council may “…warn, admonish or censure the newspaper, the news agency, the editor or the journalist or disapprove the conduct of the editor or the journalist, as the case may be.”
As of 31 October, PCI had 282 pending cases.