no Leading journalists’ outlets in India on Monday sent letters to political leaders, parliamentarians, prominent citizens and trade unions calling for a media commission to investigate the situation after the government all but abolished the 1955 law on journalists at work and the 1956 Wage Fixing Act. They also highlighted the serious state of press freedom and other key issues facing journalists in the country.
The National Alliance of Journalists (NAJ) and the Delhi Journalists Union (DUJ) wrote the letters following the 75th anniversary of India’s independence.
The NAJ and DUJ urged the commissions to not only consider the terms of service, but also the immediate replacement of the Press Council and the Media Council of India to consolidate print, broadcast, digital and cable media under one same roof.
The statement said that it should not be the responsibility of the government to formulate guidelines for the operation of digital, print and audiovisual media, but the responsibility of those in the press, including judicial experts and parliamentarians. , etc. This would ensure free and fair media and dignified work. conditions for the media community, the statement added.
The joint statement also highlighted the need for a media commission modeled on India’s first and second press commissions. This commission would include representatives of the media as well as representatives of the judiciary and other experts, he said. depends on government and private advertising and related matters, the statement said. In addition, he added that the new commission should be more autonomous than the first and second commissions and guarantee a rational salary structure and the protection of press freedom.
Journalists’ bodies have also said that a permanent salary structure that is periodically revised is the need of the moment. Additionally, they said there was a need to analyze emerging digital media and the issues they face in addition to issues of censorship and distortion of information about popular struggles.
The statement read: “On behalf of the National Alliance of Journalists (NAJ) and the Delhi Journalists Union (DUJ), the oldest and largest corps of journalists in Delhi, we wish to stress that as never before , journalism, journalists and colleagues are at a crossroads, facing dangers not only to press freedom, but also to their very livelihoods. The Covid has become a pretext to crush and intimidate the profession into submission, driving out those whose work has built a booming media industry. The situation is serious and compounded by reports of snoopgate, attacks and FIRs against journalists, restrictions on press freedom and the deliberate removal of various facilities to journalists.
The statement further states that nearly all trade union rights enjoyed by journalists and media workers have been denied by a variety of central labor codes on wages and social security. “That the Working Journalists Act, including the creation of wage commissions, has been abolished by a variety of central government codes that kill all forms of security not only for us but for the majority of the working classes who are already on the trail of war ”It said. While hundreds of cases of non-application of the 2011 Majithia Wage Board Award were pending, journalists were “shocked” by the abolition of the salary board without any alternative wage setting mechanism, he said. he declares.
Claiming that more than a thousand journalists have lost their jobs, journalists’ organizations pointed out that they had repeatedly written open letters to MPs, issued press releases and sent written objections to the Standing Labor Committee. in 2019 highlighting the problems. However, in vain.
The statement expressed concern that most of those who lost their jobs should have done without the severance pay provided for under the Journalists at Work Act or the Labor Disputes Act. He warned that if there was a third wave of Covid-19, the number of such victims could multiply.
On press freedom, the statement highlighted how journalists covering Parliament are increasingly being denied entry, with passes denied in many cases. He also highlighted how the limited spaces for independent journalism were threatened by the 2021 rules on technology (Intermediate Guidelines and Code of Ethics for Digital Media). companies.
The statement also expressed shock at the “disappearance” of the special committee, set up by order of the Union’s Cabinet secretary, to examine press freedom and India’s poor ranking in the world ranking of freedom of press. India slipped to 142nd place in Reporters Without Borders’ 2020 report on press freedom.
In conclusion, the Scribes’ Bodies said, “We urge you to heed our call to save media freedoms and save journalists from the multi-faceted attacks they face today. We call on you to pass new laws to protect our freedoms and those of all citizens, including those who have been unfairly targeted and prosecuted. Above all, we urge you to respect the Constitution and its values and to defend democracy today. “
First published by Newsclick.