PRESS COUNCIL OF INDIA'S
REPORT ON 'FAVOURS' TO JOURNALISTS
The Press Council of India has held that government accommodation,
concessional land, free air tickets and company shares-- being given to
journalists, news agencies and newspaper establishments and owners, were
The Council, which undertook a comprehensive study of the subject between
1985 and 1995, concluded that free and concessional bus, rail and other
transport facilities given to journalists also fell in the category of
favours. It observed that free air travel provided by companies, corporations
and airlines was an inducement to write favourably about their products
and services, and hence, marred independent reporting.
The Council noted that proprietors of newspapers, instead of journalists
and editors, were accompanying the President, Vice-President, Prime
Minister and the External Affairs Ministry officials, on their foreign
trips. Newspapers, it recommended, should take care to nominate eligible
persons for such trips.
The Commission also observed that indiscriminate disbursement of money
from the discretionary funds of the Chief Ministers encouraged unfaithfulness
to the mission of journalism and promoted corrupt practices. The following
are the recommendations:
The Committee (of the Council on undue favours to journalists) came to
the conclusion that the following facilities so far being extended by the
government and the authorities, companies and corporations would amount
to favours subject to the observations made here under.
1. ACCOMMODATION: GOVERNMENT HOUSING/FLATS/LAND
The Committee is of the view that it is the responsibility of the newspaper
establishments to provide accommodation to its employees. The Committee
noted that the Punjab and Haryana High Court in its judgement has held
that journalists are not entitled to government accommodation as they are
not employees of the government. The Court has said that there were no
rules, regulations or guidelines governing such allotment with the Chandigarh
administration. The Court observed that the existing rules were only meant
for government servants and there was no question of bringing the journalists
in its ambit. The Committee further noted that the Central Government in
its action taken report on the suggestions of the Second Press Commission
to the effect that: no further housing facility should be provided to the
journalists and the existing allotments of the government accommodation
in the National Capital and the States should be charged for at non-subsidised
rates and phased out as the present occupants leave-- had recorded that
no further housing facility would be provided to journalists and in respect
of the existing allotments, rent would be charged at non-subsidised rates.
This decision was taken nearly a decade ago. However, the allotments continued.
The Committee also noted that the governments were giving prime land
to the newspaper owners at nominal price. Some of the newspaper establishments
had either rented out the entire premises after retaining a small portion
for their own use or had converted the premises into a commercial complex
thereby earning huge profits. In some of the cases, it was found that the
newspapers with a view to get another allotment at some other place after
renting out the entire building, were not even reporting on attacks on
their own scribes for the simple reason that they wanted to remain in the
good books of the government. Such newspapers were compromising with the
fascist forces and the freedom of the press.
2. ALLOTMENT OF SHARES IN COMPANIES
The Committee was of the opinion that if shares were allotted at a special
prices or were given under any quota, this would amount to favour. The
Press Council of India has already issued guidelines for the financial
3. BUS TRAVEL/RAIL TRAVEL/TRANSPORT
The Committee was of the opinion that this was favour so for as big and
medium newspapers are concerned. The journalists attached to newspapers
which are in profit have no justification for availing free or concessional
bus/rail/air transport facility. However, in case of small newspapers this
constituted a facility as the Committee felt that there was justification
for extending such facility. The media persons work at the grass root level,
and work for small newspapers are paid the bare minimum recommended under
the Wage Board Awards. The financial condition of most of the small newspapers
is precarious and without such a facility they would be unable to cover
all news which is necessary to be communicated to their readers. Most of
the news of the local level which appears in these newspapers were most
times picked up by the medium and big newspapers. The reporters of the
small newspapers and accredited freelance journalists, who cannot afford
it, must have the facility to travel as much as possible.
4. FOREIGN TRAVEL
The companies, corporations and airlines extend the facility of air travel
to journalists not only within the country but also abroad. The journalists
avail of this happily. This is an inducement to write favourably about
their products/airlines. A propaganda is undertaken through such devices
to commercially promote the products/ airlines. This certainly interferes
with independent reporting.
Before 1986, the President, Vice-President, Prime Minister and External
Affairs Minister were accompanied by journalists during their foreign trips
on the basis of pick and choose policy. But in 1987, Press Council of India
framed guidelines on selection of journalists on PM's entourage and this
was being generally followed. The Committee, however, noted that often
the proprietors of the newspapers were accompanying the President/Prime
Minister on foreign tours in place of journalists and editors.
The Committee recommended that the newspapers should take care to nominate
eligible persons for the purpose.
5. FREE AIR TICKETS
The Committee was of the opinion that this practice constituted an undue
favour as it enticed journalists to write favourable reports to commercially
promote the airline.
6. CASH DISBURSEMENT FROM CM'S DISCRETIONARY FUND
The Committee noted that there are guidelines as to how the discretionary
fund at the disposal of Chief Minister or any other functionary has to
be spent. The guidelines should be followed strictly. Indiscriminate disbursement
of money from the discretionary fund of the Chief Ministers encourages
unfaithfulness to the mission of journalism and promotes corrupt practices.
7. FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE
The Committee was of the opinion that if financial assistance is given
for medical treatment purposes, it still constitutes a favour, unless,
medical aid is being given under the clear cut policy uniformly applicable
to all those destitutes or sick persons who cannot afford the medical treatment
in case the journalist incidentally happens to be one of those personal
there is nothing wrong in it. In Delhi, all the journalists accredited
to PIB are entitled to CGHS facility. The Committee feels that extending
the CGHS facility to journalists is illogical since CGHS facility is available
to the government servants only. The provision of medical facilities to
its employees is the responsibility of the newspaper establishments.
8-9. FUNDS FOR MEDIA CENTRE AND GRANTS TO JOURNALISTS ASSOCIATIONS
The Committee was of the opinion that this was a favour, unless it was
given for promoting the journalistic skills.
10. GIFT CHEQUE BY ADVT. AGENCIES FOR PUBLICATION OF PRESS NOTE OF
The Committee was of the opinion that this was a favour and deserved outright
11. OTHER GIFTS
The Committee was of the opinion that gifts in any form, irrespective of
their value, are to be condemned.
12. FREE PARKING
The Committee was of the opinion that this was a favour if a journalist
uses this facility for purposes other than his professional work.
13. GUEST HOSPITALITY
The Committee was of the opinion that working journalists as a rule should
not be treated as State Guests. In case an individual is treated as State
Guest he ipso facto becomes entitled to many facilities without any payment
thereof. However, when press teams are invited in discharge of their professional
duties, making due arrangements for them should be an exception. The committee
further noted that the stay in government guest houses by accredited journalists,
is permissible if it is for discharging professional duties.
14. IMPORT OF DUTY-FREE CAMERAS AND COMPUTERS
The Committee was of the opinion it is the duty of the newspaper establishment
to, provide cameras/computers to its personnel. An individual employee
journalist is not required to buy camera/computer for his work. In the
recent past, the Central Government had allowed import of duty free cameras
and computers to the journalists. the Committee felt that this concession
amounted to a However, the Committee was of the opinion that this facility.
should be permissible forth accredited freelance journalists, provided
it is not misused.
15. INSURANCE PREMIUM
The Committee was of the opinion that it is not for the government to pay
for the premium towards the insurance of journalists. It is the duty of
the newspaper establishments or the individual concerned to make such payment
towards annual dues once the scheme has been introduced.
16. JOB TO RELATIVES
Giving jobs to journalist's relative not on merits, is an outright attempt
The Committee was of the opinion that the grant of loans within the ambit
of policy already laid down for all citizens is permissible. But when the
loan is give only to the journalists or at reduced rate of interest or
when the interest due or the principal amount is waived/written off/ condoned,
such a practice would amount to undue favour.
18. NOMINATION ON COMMITTEES
The Committee was of the opinion that in some states, the journalists are
nominated on some organisations and institutions like Public Service Commission
and are also given the status of State Minister or Cabinet Minister, which
was a wrong practice. Except for the nomination by the professional organisations
on Committees which have a quota to represent the various professionals,
this practice constitutes favour.
19. PCO/FAX/PHONE BOOTH OR CENTRE
The Committee was of the opinion that this is obviously a favour, if gifted.
The fax and the phone facility given to all journalists is, however, to
be distinguished from the allotment of such booths.
20. PENSIONARY BENEFITS
The Committee Was of the opinion that since the Fourth Estate was not a
part of the government, this benefit constituted a favour if the pensionary
benefits were extended by the government. The role of the authorities should
be limited to ensuring that the newspaper establishments implement the
awards of the Wage Boards.
21. PRESS CLUBS - DONATION OF FUNDS
The Committee noted that this practice is prevalent all over the Country
and fund are being donated lavishly by Chief Ministers/Ministers/Leaders
not only to genuine press clubs but also to the press clubs of dubious
nature. It, therefore, constituted an attempt to induce the journalists
to give favourable reports about the donors.
The Committee felt that the practice of giving spurious awards has to be
curbed. There were instances, not worth mentioning, of sale of awards and
prizes by racketeers making money out of it. Not only the racketeers but
awardees also were often contributing towards the value of the prizes.
Allotment of shops in their capacity as journalists is a clear cut favour.
The Committee was of the opinion that the following constituted facilities,
subject to the remarks given:
The pattern of the formation of the Central Press Accreditation Committee
should be followed in all states and union territories. The CPAC at present
has a good composition of representatives of journalists, owners, editors
and non editors' organisations headed by Principal Information Officer
of the Press Information Bureau, Government of India. Another officer,
Director of External Publicity is also called to attend the meeting whenever
the issue of foreign accreditation is considered. However. it be made mandatory
that the accreditation committee should be constituted within a month of
the expiry of the term of the earlier committee and committee should hold
its meetings quarterly. A provisional accreditation, if given, must come
up before the accreditation committee in its first meeting thereafter.
2. GOVERNMENT AND PUBLIC AUTHORITY ADVERTISEMENTS
It is a mutually beneficial transaction when conducted in keeping with
the parameters defined in an already laid down policy. However, when given
to individual newspapers on ad hoc basis or for extraneous considerations
or when they are not routed through centralised agency, they constitute
In addition, governments and public authorities, including the Railways,
must publish in their Annual Reports etc., the information regarding advertisements
and facilities given by them to journalists and their organisations etc.,
to ensure greater transparency in their working.
3. ELECTION FACILITIES
The Committee was of the opinion that this was a must, so that journalists
are able to cover the events relating to the most important electoral process.
Access to all the places of information must be given to them, subject
to reasonable restrictions imposed by the Election Commission of India.
4. MEETING EXPENSES FOR JOURNALISTIC CONVENTIONS, SEMINARS etc.
The Committee was of the opinion that this was permissible so long as under
its garb, cash grants are not given by the governments and public authorities
5. PRESS ROOMS
They are a facility required to be provided for due discharge of the professional
duties by the journalists.
6. INVITING PRESS PARTIES
The Committee was of the opinion that as stated earlier, this was a facility
extended by the authorities to provide the necessary information on matters
of public interest to the public.
7. PUBLICATION MATERIAL DURING PRESS CONFERENCE
The Committee was of the opinion that this was a facility.
The Committee was of the opinion that this was a facility and should be
encouraged as this will improve the knowledge and efficiency of all those
engaged in the profession of journalism.
The Press Council of India further stated:
The State governments/UTs which have not provided complete information
on further queries of the Council are Andhra Pradesh, Chandigarh Administration,
Gujarat, Haryana, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Orissa, Punjab and
The Council's Committee on undue favours to journalists (hereinafter
referred to as Committee) also sought public co-operation by issuing press
releases, from time to time in all the States and Union Territories, inviting
organisations, institutions and members of the public to provide any such
information to the Committee as may be in their possession or knowledge,
which was relevant to the issue.
The information received from various sources reveals that the press
persons/newspaper establishments are enjoying the following amenities:
1. Accommodation Government Housing/Flats/Land
2. Allotment of Shares in Companies.
3. Bus Travel/Rail Travel/Transport
4. Foreign Travel
5. Free Air Tickets
6. Cash Disbursement from Chief Ministers Discretionary Fund
7. Financial Assistance
8. Funds for Media Centre and the like
9. Grants to journalists associations
10. Gift Cheque by advertisement agencies for publication of press
notes of their clients.
11. Other gifts
12. Free Parking
13. Guest Hospitality
14. Import of duty free cameras and computers
15. Insurance Premium
16. Jobs to relatives
18. Nomination on Committees
20. Pensionary benefits
21. Donation of funds to Press Clubs
25. Government and public authority advertisements
26. Election facilities
27. Meeting expenses for journalists' conventions, seminars, etc.
28. Inviting press parties
29. Publication material (issued) during press conferences
30. Training (Based on a circular by AINEF)
Address of the Press Council:
Press Council of India
Faridcot House (Ground Floor)
Copper Nicus Marg
New Delhi, India.
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