New Delhi: A two-day conference on the role of media in promoting human rights got underway in the capital Thursday, with participation of media organisations from various countries. Inaugurating the conference, Minister for Information and Broadcasting Ambika Soni said press should avoid sensationalising stories.
“The media ought to act as an enabler, giving voice to the voiceless in order to ensure that every marginal group was heard, seen and involved in the mainstream by highlighting issues that protected and enhanced the dignity and self-esteem of such groups,” Soni said.
She said that media should avoid sensationalising issues for the sake of commercial interests.
“An independent and pluralistic media, which freely provides substantiated information to citizens, is the cornerstone of a robust and democratic polity and acts as a protector of human rights,” she added.
Talking about the Indian government’s support to the media, Soni said: “During the period of global recession, the print industry in India grew at a rate of 6.2 percent. Support was provided to the different newspapers through advertisements released by the government”.
“The growing number of newspaper readers within the country is also an indicator of the growth of the regional press in different forms and dialects. In the broadcast sector, 653 satellite channels had been granted permission till date, while the FM phase-three roll out shortly would ensure availability of 806 radio stations across 283 cities,” she added.
Organised by the Press Council of India (PCI), the conference was inaugurated by External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna and Soni.
Titled ‘Freedom of Expression and Human Rights’, participants included media organisations from Australia, Austria, Turkey, Israel, Nepal, Bangladesh and Indonesia, among others.
“The international concern on the role of the media in promoting universal human rights prompted us to organise this colloquium,” PCI secretary Vibha Bhargava said.
“The deliberations among various media persons of different organisations will lay emphasis on the freedom of expression vis-a-vis rights of the civil society, media as a defender of human rights, reporting of human right excesses and promoting peace journalism,” she added.
“Further, this platform will be an opportunity for the media to adjudge its promotion of universal respect for and observance of human rights and fundamental freedoms, and also the exchange views of the press scenario in different parts of the world,” Bhargava added.