Press council chief softens stand on TV journalism

Justice Markandey Katju, chairman of the Press Council of India, on Wednesday said he was against use of ''harsh measures'' against the media, and if TV channels did not want to be governed by the PCI they should choose another body like the proposed lokpal.

Katju had made headlines soon after his appointment by calling journalists ignoramuses with a ''very poor intellectual level''. He had also suggested that the electronic media should be brought under the purview of the PCI, saying he had written to the prime minister in this regard.

At a National Press Day seminar on Wednesday, he sought to soften his earlier remarks. Previous to the occasion, Katju also issued a clarification on his reported comments, excerpts of which was published by The Hindu on Wednesday. He said among other things that "the media should regard me as their well-wisher."

"By criticising the media, I wanted to persuade them to change their manner of functioning - not that I wanted to destroy them," he said.

He added that in a democracy, "issues are ordinarily resolved by discussion, persuasion, consultation and dialogue, and that is the method I prefer, rather than using harsh measures."

Meanwhile, there seemed to be a broad consensus at the seminar that self-regulation of the media was not quite working, and an external regulator may be a necessity.