Showing posts with label Media Laws. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Media Laws. Show all posts

Saturday, 25 February 2017

What are the various types of Censorships?

Types of Censorships


Types of Censorships

Censorship can be exercised on various mediums, out of these the most common five to face censorship can be-

Censorship in books: Book censorship is when a book is removed from the shelf of a library; this can be enacted at a national or subnational level, and can carry legal penalties for their infraction. Books are often censored in India if they have hurtful content to some religious beliefs and can hence be censored by a religion without carrying legal implications. The Satanic Verses by Salman Rushdie is one such example of a censored book

Censorship in films: Central Board of Film Certification in India oversees release and censorship in films. It is a statutory censorship and classification body under Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, It is tasked with regulating public exhibition of films under the provisions of Cinematograph Act 1952. It assigns certification to films, television shows and advertisements. Films in India can only be shown after receiving this certification which id at times denied eg Fire (1996) Attacked by Hindu fundamentalist for showing lesbian relationship but was later released, The Pink Mirror (2004) denied rating for homosexual content

Censorship in music: Censorship in music is the practice of restricting free access to musical works. This may stem from a wide variety of motivations like moral, political, military or religious reasons. It can range from complete government enforced legal prohibition of a musical work, to private voluntary removal of content when music work appears in certain context eg Radio edit. A radio edit is a modification to make a song more suitable for airplay adjusting its length, profanity, subject matter, instrumentation or form.

Censorship in maps: Cartographic censorship is a way of dealing with the description of potentially strategically important information on maps that are available to everyone. Such information may include objects such as military bases, transmitters, or power plants. There are different ways in which maps are being censored, on of the better knows measure is the concealing through ‘dead maps’ in which sensitive area is turned grey.

Censorship on the internet: Censorship is done online, stopping certain portals from being accessed by blocking the Indian server gateway. Such practices are done for sites endorsing
  • Pornographic content
  • Threat to law and order
  • National security only


Self- Censorship
Censorship which, when imposed by law, operates as a restriction upon the freedom of the Press, ceases to be so when it is self-imposed.
In many countries, newspapers and journals have together formulated a code of conduct or guidelines they would observe, in order to prevent abuses of the freedom. Though these voluntary guidelines do not operate as binding upon any units, they are usually complied with in order to avert governmental intervention.
Self-censorship imposed by voluntary restraint must be distinguished from the guidelines issued by a censor, an instance which was seen in India during 1975-76 Emergency. Instead of enforcing the censorship order formally, the censoring authority issued guidelines for the Press to the same effect an assurance was obtained from the Press organisations that they would abide by these guidelines. Compliance with such ‘guidelines’ did not constitute self-censorship as the guidelines were not self-imposed.
Prior to the enactment of the Press Council Bill in 1977, the all India Newspapers’ Conference drew up a code of ethics for journalists an in March 1978, appointed a Vigilance Committee to enforce that code.  After the enactment of the Press Council Act 1978, the scope for enforcement of any code of ethics formulated by journalists outside the Press council seemed to have been obviated by reason of the fact that the Act enjoined the Press Council “to build up a code of conduct for newspapers, news agencies and journalists in accordance with high professional standards.”  The code of conduct issued by the council may be said to be self-imposed in so far as the journalists shall have a substantial representation in the press council. The Press council only extends to the print industry but with the coming in of the Broadcast medium the News Broadcasting Association was setup as watch dog to ensure moral and correct practicing of journalistic ethics. The NBA is an association set up by private television and current affair broadcasters. It is an organisation funded entirely by its members and at presently has 28 leading news and current affairs broadcasters. The NBA presents a credible and unified voice before the government, on matters affecting the industry.  The association also comes up with a code of ethics on ensuring morale journalistic practices.

News Broadcasting Association Guidelines

Guidelines for Telecast of News during Emergency Situations
1. All telecast of news relating to armed conflict, internal disturbance, communal violence, public disorder, crime and other similar situations should be tested on the touchstone of “public interest”.
2. The media has the responsibility to disseminate information which is factually accurate and objective.
3. No live reporting should be made that facilitates publicity of any terrorist or militant outfit or its ideology or tends to evoke sympathy for the perpetrators or glamorizes them or their cause or advances the illegal agenda or objectives of the perpetrators.
4. In live reporting of hostage situations or rescue operations, no details of identity, number and status of hostages should be telecast or information given of pending rescue operations or regarding the number of security personnel involved or the methods employed by them.

5. Media should avoid:
a. Live contact with the victims or security personnel or other technical personnel involved or the perpetrators during the course of the incident.
b. Unnecessary repeated or continuous broadcast of archival footage that may tend to re-agitate the mind of the viewers. Archival footage, if shown, should clearly indicate “file”. The date and time be given when feasible.

6. The dead should be treated with dignity and their visuals should not be shown. Special care should be taken in the broadcast of any distressing visuals and graphics showing grief and emotional scenes of victims and relatives which could cause distress to children and families.
These are broad Guidelines and are not meant to be exhaustive.


What are advisories?

Advisories are issued by the government and are similar to press releases; it is used to send newsworthy information to members of the media. However, media advisories are more highly specific. Media advisories tend to deal with event news, and send out information as to how an event is to be dealt with. Unlike press releases, media advisories are not meant for the public eyes.
Within the framework of our constitution certain cases cannot be reported, or shown for public scrutiny. Cases involving minors or rape victims cannot be reported or have to be reported concealing identities of those involved.

Advisories can be of four types-

1) No coverage allowed: When this type of advisory is issued no coverage is allowed at all. Such is done for cases of Rape trials, Juvenile offences to name a few.

2) Partial coverage allowed: Partial coverage is allowed in important cases even for sensitive issues. For example 16th December Delhi rape case the media houses had appealed to the High Court in light of it being a milestone case for the Indian judiciary. The High Court had taken this into account and the media was allowed to cover partial issues of the case.

3) Coverage denied till certain time/ Embargo: In news with an Embargo or a time delaying advisory, broadcast of news can only be done after a certain period of time. For example, the 26/11 convict, AjmalKasab interrogation video was available with the leading media houses but could only be broadcasted after the verdict of the court.

4) Complete coverage allowed: In such cases advisories are only used in place of a press release which is directive or informative to the media houses. It does not deny or delay news or its broadcast in any way.

Regulations and Legislations of freedom of Press

Historical Evolution of Laws


Media Laws

In the next few years there was an emergence of other newspapers which were inspired by Hickey. In 1780 there were publications like the India Gazette, followed by Calcutta Gazette, Bengal journal, oriental magazine of Calcutta Amusement and Chronicle. Censorship was first introduced in Madras in 1795 when Madras Gazette was required to submit all general orders of the government for scrutiny by the military secretary before publication. The most significant aspect of this period, i.e. 18th century, was that there were no Press laws as such but the government took summary action against the offending newspapers. The pattern of the government was to deport incorrigible editors, deny postal facilities to the unrepentant and to require those who persisted in causing displeasure to the government to submit either a part or the whole newspaper for censorship. This amply shows that the Press did not have unfettered freedom or even reasonable freedom as form of expression. Besides this there were various regulations and legislations to restraint and curb the freedom of the Press.

Press regulation of 1799: Governor General Wellesley issued a regulation requiring newspapers, to print the names of the printers, publishers and editors of newspapers and to submit all materials published in the paper for pre- censorship by the secretary to the Government of India. Any breach was punishable with deportation from India.
James Silk Bukingham and Raja Ram Mohun Roy played an important role in establishing the freedom of the press in India. Buckingham was an indomitable fighter for the freedom of the press.

Ordinance of 1823: Jhon Adam did not like that the newspapers would sit in judgment of the government or that they should bring public measures or conduct of public officers before what it called “public opinion”. He therefore issued an ordinance introducing the licencing of the Press under which all matter printed in the Press, except commercial matter, required a pre licence from the Governor General. This regulation made under the ordinance empowered magistrates to dispose of both unlicensed printing presses and those which continued to function after notice of recall.

Act of 1857: Licencing was reintroduced by Lord Cannings Act of 1857. An important feature of the law was that it did not make any distinction between European and Indian publications. It imposed a prohibition that “no newspaper shall contain any observation or statement impugning the designs or motives of the British government either in England or in India or in any way tending to bring the said government into hatred or contempt, to excite dissatisfaction or act unlawful to its orders or to weaken its lawful authority it the authority of its civil military servants or observations or statements having a tendency to create alarm or suspicion among the native population of any intended interference by the government with their religious opinions and observations having tendency to weaken  the friendship towards the British government of native princes”.

Indian Penal Code 1860: The year 1860 was a landmark in as much as it saw the passing of the Indian Penal code, which made the offences of defamation and obscenity punishable and those provisions were applicable to the Press too. Section 124A which made sedition punishable was included in the code in 1870. Section 153A, 154B and 295A which dealt with the offences promoting enmity between different classes, making of imputations or assertion prejudicial to national integration and outraging religious feelings was subsequently added to the code.

Vernacular Press Act 1878: The rapid growth of the Indian Language Press like the Amrita Bazar Patrika made the government rather uneasy. The passing of the Vernacular Press Act by Lord Lytton which was specifically directed against newspapers published in Indian languages. It empowered the government, to issue warrants and to enter the premises of any Press, even courts.

Criminal Procedure Code 1898: Though the Criminal Procedures Code 18988 was a general law laying down the procedures in criminal matters, it came to include matters of interest to the Press like Section 108 particularly after the insertion of section 99A-99G in 1922, which conferred certain procedural powers upon the government to search for forfeit publications which offended against the provisions of section 124A, 153A, or 295 A of the IPC.

Act of 1908: The Government of India, being faced with seditious activities passed the Newspapers(incitement to offences) Act which empowered the magistrates to seize a Press on being satisfied that a newspaper therein contained incitement to murder or any other form of violence.

Act of 1910: The Act of 1908 was followed by a more comprehensive Act of 1910, Indian Press act, directed against offences involving violence as well as sedition. It empowered the government to require a deposit of security by the keeper of any Press which contained matter inciting sedition, murder or any other offence under the Explosive Substance Act, and also provide forfeit of such deposit in specified contingencies.

Official Secrets Acts, 1923: In order to have a greater impact and control on the Press, the Official Secrets Act was enacted in 1923 to maintain the security of the state against leakage of secret information, sabotage and the like.


Press Ordinance Act, 1930: The framing of Swaraj Constitution in 1927 and the recommendations of the Motilal Nehru Committee in 1928 which contained a number of fundamental rights including the right of free expression, the passing of resolution for complete Independence for India in 1929, the launching of Civil Disobedience Movement by Mahatma Gandhi in 1930 and the activities of the nationalist Press scared the British Government which issued inter alia, the Press Ordinance Act, 1930 reproducing the stringent provisions of the repealed Act of 1910.

What is freedom of the Press and its importance

What is the Press?

Freedom of Press

The news media focuses on delivering news to the general public or a target public. These include print media, broadcast news, and more recently cyber media or the Internet. The print media comprises- newspapers, news magazines, broadcast news - radio and television, and more recently the Internet- online newspapers, news blogs, etc.


The Press according to Webster dictionary refers to:

a). Printing press;
b). The act or the process of printing;
c). A printing or publishing establishment;
d). The gathering and publishing or broadcasting of news :  journalism
e). Newspapers, periodicals, and often radio and television news broadcasting,
f). News reporters, publishers, and broadcasters;
g). Comment or notice in newspapers and periodicals

The word press refers to a printing press.

a). The Press as an establishment where printing is done;
b). The Press as a medium for publication;
c). The products of printing such as newspapers pamphlets etc;
d). Those who engage in production of such foregoing articles- editors, printers, publishers, journalists;
e). The Press as a medium of expression, publicity, criticism etc.

What are Press Laws?


Press Laws

The expression Press law commonly refers to a special law directed towards those who are concerned with curtailing the printing and publication of printed matter. Historically, the agitation for freedom of the Press began with protestations against such special laws.
Press Emergency Power Act (1931), the Press Objectionable Matter Act (1951) and the Emergency period- the Prevention of Publication of Objectionable Matters Act (1976), none of these laws exist in modern day governance. Though there is no longer any such repressive union law directed against the Press, there are certain regulatory measures such as the Press and Registration Books Act (1867) and even beneficial measures such as the Working Journalists Act. Besides all of these acts, there are certain criminal laws which affect all offenders, whether engaged under the Press or not.

What is Freedom of the Press?
According to Durga Das Basu, “Freedom of Press today means absence of interference by the state with the Press, except in so far as it is authorised by the constitution, and by laws which are constitutionally valid.”
Freedom of the Press or freedom of the media is the freedom of communication and expression through media including various electronic media and published materials. While such freedom mostly implies the absence of interference from an overreaching state, its preservation may be sought through constitutional or other legal protections.
With respect to governmental information, any government may distinguish which materials are public or protected from disclosure to the public based on classification of information as sensitive, classified or secret and being otherwise protected from disclosure due to relevance of the information to protecting the national interest. Many governments are also subject to sunshine laws or freedom of information legislation that are used to define the ambit of national interest.
‘Freedom’of the Press means absence of control, interference or restriction. Hence, the expression freedom of the Press means the right to print and publish without any interference from the state or any public authority. This freedom, like other freedoms cannot be absolute and is subjected to well-known exceptions acknowledged in public interest, which in India are enumerated in Article 19 of the Constitution. Since in India freedom of expression is guaranteed by Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution, and it has been held by the SC  that freedom of the Press is included in that wider guarantee, it is unnecessary to plead for freedom of the Press in this country.

Why freedom of the Press is important?

The arguments in favour of freedom of the Press are the same as that for freedom of speech and expression, with a stronger appeal ringing from the special features of printed matter.
A printed matter records the ideas in a permanent form which speech cannot.
Newspaper and books have a larger reach and wider circulation.

What has been said in the U.S.A is true for all modern day democracies

The newspapers, magazines and other journals of the country…have shed and continued to shed more light on the public and business affairs of the nation than any other instrumentality of publicity…”
As 19(1)(a) of the Indian Constitution states, the Press is an institution has no constitutional or legal privileges. What is known as freedom of the Press is freedom of speech and expression of every individual which includes-
1. The right to lay what sentiments he pleases before the public, or the right to impart information and ideas.
2. The right to receive information and ideas from others through any lawful means.
3. Growth of the Press has come to be recognised as an institutional limb of the country and the modern day democracy. Ideologically, indispensability of the Press for proper functioning is so much embedded in US that Jefferson once said that if he had to choose between a government without newspapers, on the one hand and newspapers without government on the other, he would have no hesitation in preferring the latter.
4. If democracy means government by the people themselves- whether directly or through representatives elected on the basis of public issues, the people must be allowed freedom to discuss the issues and express their judgments. The state can punish offences but not the participation of the people in the government of the country. The basic principle of democracy being that “in government of deliberative forces shall prevail over the arbitrary”  public discussion becomes a political duty and the “greatest menace to freedom is an inert people.”
5. Representative democracy, the foundation of which is free elections based on reason cannot function in society where there is no freedom of speech.

Mere freedom of election is not enough if there is no Press to criticize the programme and action of the party in power and the parties in opposition are not allowed to represent their alternative programmes before the people, on the basis of which they can exercise their choice at elections efficiently. In other words an electorate is not free unless informed, and an informed electorate is dependent upon access to all shades of political opinion, which conversely means an opportunity for all groups to take their message to the electorate. Government of the people by the people themselves cannot function unless the people are well informed and free to participate in public issues by having the widest choice of alternative problems that arise.

Freedom of the Press in short forecloses the state from assuming ‘a guardianship of the public mind’ “Authority is to be controlled by the public opinion, not public opinion by the authority.”