In the wake of 26/11, television channels have come under attack for their coverage. Last week, the information and broadcasting ministry proposed to amend cable TV rules to impose media curbs during emergencies. Broadcasters are up in arms over this assault on freedom of speech.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Wednesday assured broadcasters that coverage wouldn’t be curbed without the “widest” consultations with all stakeholders, though it’s not clear what “widest” consultations entail or who these stakeholders are. But it’s encouraging to see that the government is thinking this over. Press freedom has served the nation well, and it’s unwise to grant bureaucrats powers they can abuse.
That said, TV channels are no saints. Coverage of Mumbai’s 60-hour siege may have aided terrorists and compromised security operations. In such times, free speech comes with certain responsibilities: self-regulation is a must. Else, news outlets could invite more public wrath.