The Delhi High Court on Monday asked news channels as to what needs to be done to improve the current standards of news reportage, while remarking that people are “scared of the Fourth Estate and that Doordarshan era was much better”.
“People are scared about the Fourth Estate. Even if the issue regarding the privacy of public figures is diluted, you (news channels) cannot drag their personal lives into the public domain,” said Justice Rajiv Shakdhar.
The court added: “Black-and-white Doordarshan era was much better, I feel.”
The court also questioned the news channels about the mechanism to change the way news reporting is taking place nowadays. “Even trained and educated minds get affected by such consistently misreporting. You tell us how should we resolve this?” the court asked.
The remarks were made while the court was hearing a petition filed by four Bollywood associations and 34 producers to seek restraint on Republic TV and Times Now channels from making or publishing what they dubbed as “irresponsible, derogatory and defamatory” remarks against Hindi film industry and its members.
The bench stated that it’s not disallowing the news channels from covering news but is only asking them to pursue responsible journalism. “We’re not saying that you cannot cover such news but we are (only) asking you to carry out responsible journalism,” it said.
The court also warned the channels that if they don’t follow the Programme Code, it will have to “enforce” it.
The petitioners had urged the court to see that the defendants abide by the Programme Code under the Cable Television Networks Rules, 1994, and to withdraw, recall and take down all defamatory content published by them against Bollywood.
This comes in the wake of alleged use of words and expressions like “dirt”, “filth”, “scum” and “druggies”, “it is Bollywood where the dirt needs to be cleaned”, “all the perfumes of Arabia cannot take away the stench and the stink of this filth and scum of the underbelly of Bollywood”, “this is the dirtiest industry in the country”, and “cocaine and LSD drenched Bollywood” by these channels.
The privacy of members of Bollywood was getting invaded, the plea contended, and their reputations irreparably damaged by painting the entire industry as criminals seeped in drug culture. To be a part of Bollywood was painted as synonymous with criminal acts in the public imagination, the petitioners said.