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`Newspapers, television on the decline in developed nations'

Staff Reporter

Gloom in mature media markets with the spread of new media like Internet: N.Ram



DRIVING HOME THE POINT: Editor-in-Chief of The Hindu N. Ram interacting with a student at a meeting organised at the Visakha Public Library by the Centre for Policy Studies in Visakhapatnam on Monday where Mr. Ram spoke on `Media trends.' Director o f the centre A. Prasanna Kumar is also seen.

VISAKHAPATNAM: With new media platforms emerging, newspapers and broadcast television in developed countries are on the decline, Editor-in-Chief of The Hindu N. Ram said. Narrow cast technology, niche audience and specialised channels are gaining ground.

Speaking on "State of the media -- trends and issues" at a meeting organised by the Centre for Policy Studies here on Monday, he said there was gloom in mature media markets with the spread of new media in the form of the Internet.

The spread of newspapers had reached saturation levels in the developed countries whereas in India it was a picture of growth, though with a very low base of 65 copies per 1,000 population, against 800 in Scandinavian countries.

Readers migrating

On the other hand, India's Internet users were only 11 million against 123 million in China and 220 million in the United States. There were fears that the Internet was eroding the base of the newspapers, radio and broadcast TV.

"The readers are migrating depending upon access to Internet and broadband and it will have a big impact on how news is covered and what the readers' preferences are," Mr. Ram said.

However, readers were going to stay and only the platforms would change. But, India had the time to adjust without making the mistakes newspapers and television stations made in those countries.

Mr. Ram said an important function of newspapers was to provide credible information by accurately sourcing it.

He said media should influence agenda-building to promote discussion on issues that matter without dumbing them down. The real future of the media lay in creating a template for discussion. While keeping in view the plurality of the country, he said truth-telling, factuality, accuracy and careful analysis should be given priority in reporting.

Freedom, independence

He said an important principle was that of freedom and independence. While the press had by and large enjoyed freedom, there was no broadcast law.

He favoured a liberal framework for broadcast TV and the powers not to be vested with police officials.

Another principle was that of justice which was more than fairness, he said, and added that Nobel Laureate Amartya Sen's theory of entitlements would be useful to journalists.

The media should also tune into issues like reservation, rural distress and starvation and be on the side of peace, harmony and resolution of conflict.

Centre for Policy Studies Director A. Prasanna Kumar described The Hindu as the most credible newspaper and a most durable institution with fairness and justice as two guiding principles. CPS Chairman B. Swamy and Visakhapatnam Public Library Secretary V. Sitaramayya participated.

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