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Indian press is free but attempts made to influence, say experts

Tuesday May 03, 2011 02:53:22 PM, IANS

New Delhi: The press in India is free from government censorship but there are attempts by corporates and politicians to manipulate the media, experts said on World Press Freedom Day Tuesday.

"The press is independent here but not free because the corporate sector has more influence now. But in conflict areas like the northeast and Kashmir, the freedom of press is only for name's sake," veteran journalist Kuldip Nayar told IANS.

M.J. Akbar, editorial director of India Today group and chief editor of weekly The Sunday Guardian, doesn't feel there are any issues with press freedom in India. "I think there is no issue of freedom of press in India."

However, Rajdeep Sardesai, editor-in chief of IBN 18 network and president of Editors' Guild of India, voiced concern about manipulation of media by some people for their own interests.

"I think press in India is remarkably free. Some attempts are made by politicians, corporates and other people to manipulate the media but still press is free in India," he said.

Reporters Without Border, an international organisation which works to ensure freedom of press and protect journalists, has put India at the 122 spot in terms of freedom of press compared to 109 in 2009.

Sunil Saxena, dean of International Media Institute of India (IMII), said the press in India is quite free and vibrant.

"To remain so, it must follow good practices. This is the best way of earning the respect of the people of India and keeping the government away," said Saxena.

Shoma Chaudhary, managing editor of weekly Tehelka, feels that there are many challenges before the press in India.

"The biggest challenge is to avoid self-censorship. Largely self-censorship is the biggest threat to press in India," she said.

"A growing trend of 'advertisery' journalism is being witnessed in India. The journalists who write about most problems are operated traditionally by the government. Corruption within media is also one of the biggest challenges," she added.

The UN General Assembly declared May 3 as World Press Freedom Day in 1993 following a recommendation adopted at the twenty-sixth session of UNESCO's General Conference in 1991. On this day journalists celebrate the fundamental principles of press freedom.





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