PRESS COUNCIL OF INDIAS REPORT ON FAVOURS TO JOURNALISTS

IN Media Practice | 13/04/2002


PRESS COUNCIL OF INDIAS REPORT ON FAVOURS TO JOURNALISTS



The Press Council of India has held that Government accommodation, concessional land, free air tickets and company shares being given to journalists, news agencies and newspaper establishments and owners would amount to `undue favours`.

The Council, which undertook a comprehensive study on the subject between 1985 and 1995, held that free and concessional bus, rail and other transport facilities given to journalists also fell in the category of favours. It observed that the facility of free air travel provided by companies, corporations and airlines was an inducement to write favourably about their products and services.

The Council noted that proprietors of newspapers, instead of journalists and editors, were accompanying the President, Vice-President, Prime Minister and the External Affairs Ministry officials, on their foreign trips. It recommended that the newspapers should take care to nominate eligible persons for the purpose.

The Commission also observed that indiscriminate disbursement of money from the discretionary funds of the Chief Ministers encouraged unfaithfulness to the mission of journalism and promoted corrupt practices. The following are the recommendations:

RECOMMENDATIONS

The Committee (of the Council on undue favours to journalists) came to the conclusion that the following facilities so far being extended by the government and the authorities, companies and corporations would amount to favours subject to the observations made here under.

1. ACCOMMODATION: GOVERNMENT HOUSING/FLATS/LAND

The Committee is of the view that it is the responsibility of the newspaper establishments to provide accommodation to its employees. The Committee noted that the Punjab and Haryana High Court in its judgement has held that journalists are not entitled to government accommodation as they are not employees of the government. The Court has said that
there were no rules, regulations or guidelines governing such allotment with the Chandigarh administration. The Court observed that the existing rules were only meant for government servants and there was no question of bringing the journalists in its ambit.
The Committee further noted that the Central Government in its action taken report on the suggestions of the Second Press Commission to the effect that: no further housing facility should be provided to the journalists and the existing allotments of the government accommodation in the National Capital and the States should be charged for at non-subsidised rates and phased out as the present occupants leave-- had recorded that no further housing facility would be provided to journalists and in respect of the existing allotments, rent would be charged at non-subsidised rates. This decision was taken nearly a decade ago.
However, the allotments continued.

The Committee also noted that the Governments were giving prime land to the newspaper owners at nominal price. Some of the newspaper establishments had either rented out the entire premises after retaining a small portion for their own use or had converted the premises into a

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