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TRPs or Truth?

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The recent observations of the Supreme Court towards the functioning of media in India seem to be an urgent need of redefining and restructuring the electronic media in accordance with the constitutional values, freedom of media, individual rights and right to privacy. “Sensation above sense” becomes one of the most important weapons in the hand of media owners to rig the viewer’s mind so as to get a high television rating point (TRP). Professionalism and ethics of media have always happened to be the missing aspects for the last few years as viewers themselves surrendered their preferences of news and stories based on sensation as politically motivated, ideologically inspired and iconic glamour news. Three types of models of journalism existing in India pose a greater risk to democracy.

Aggressive model of journalism: Aggressive journalism evolved over time as an offshoot of post-globalisation when electronic media began telecasting live news into 24-hour formats. Initially, the media remained engaged in covering the news round the clock so as to make viewers aware of all the happenings quickly. But, with the rising number of private channels after 2000, there has been a beginning of attracting the viewers towards their own channel by spreading news quickly, pitching the stories as sensations, media trials, etc, so as to secure a high TRP. Such type of practices in the media are glorified positively as aggressive journalism on acc­ount of free media enshrined in the Constitution as freedom of speech and expression under Article 19 (1)(a) that deals with protection of certain rights regarding freedom of speech, etc. Although, at the same time, freedom of media is restricted under Article 19(2) if there arise issues related to the sovereignty and integrity of India, the security of the state, friendly relations with foreign states, public order, decency or morality or in relation to contempt of court, defamation or incitement to an offence. A few of such cases, namely the Jessica Lal case, 2010, the Priyadarshini Mattoo case, 2006, the Bijal Joshi rape case, 2005, the Aarushi Talwar’s murder case, 2013, and very recently, the media trial of Rhea Chakraborty, were dealt with by the media by declaring the accused guilty even before the actual trial had begun. Though, the Supreme Court in Sahara v SEBI (2012) strongly observed that such trials by the media are likely to affect the reputation of the judiciary and judicial proceedings adversely.

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Updated On : 17th Oct, 2020

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