No plans to regulate news websites: Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore

New Delhi, Delhi, IndiaUpdated: May 16, 2018, 08:59 AM IST

File photo: Information and Broadcasting Minister Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore. Photograph:(AFP)

Newly appointed Information and Broadcasting Minister Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore today stressed on media adopting self-regulation and asserted that the government had no plan to regulate news portals and media websites.

Dismissing the government vs media debate, he said his ministry would work in a direction where any media, whether public broadcaster Prasar Bharati or private channels, becomes the 'voice of people'.

"The Prime Minister is very clear that the media in our country is one of the very important pillars of democracy and they have to self-regulate," Mr Rathore told reporters.

Mr Rathore assumed charge as Minister of State (Independent charge) of Information and Broadcasting (I&B) Ministry after replacing Smriti Zubin Irani. He also holds the portfolio of Sports Ministry.

In the Indian media, the minister said, self-regulation was done in various layers, first by a journalist and then by editors. The government believes in self-regulation by the media, he added.

The comments assume significance in the backdrop of a controversial press release issued by the ministry last month on fake news. The communique was widely criticised by media organisations and subsequently withdrawn after Prime Minister Narendra Modi's intervention.

To a query over the ministry issuing an order last month for the constitution of a committee to frame rules to regulate news portals and media websites, Mr Rathore said, I think you have misunderstood it.

He said Prasar Bharati will be strengthened and high priority would be given to better and informative programmes.

"It is not us vs them...It is not about two teams. It is about a collective responsibility that media becomes the voice of the people, whether it is Prasar Bharati or private network or channel. We will work in this direction," the Union minister said.

Mr Rathore, who was a junior minister in the ministry, said that in the last four years, the government was able to establish a two-way communication with the people of the country.

"We will continue to do that," he said.

On the challenges posed by social media, Mr Rathore said social media platforms were totally independent.

"We hope people put across their views with responsibility," he added.