Star India CEO Uday Shankar today lamented that the media and the government have a "broken relationship" and warned this will have dire consequences for both the industry as well as those in power.
Shankar felt it is therefore appropriate that the weeks before the upcoming Lok Sabha elections is the right time to call for a "new contract" between the government and the media to reaffirm their commitment to transform lives of people.
Shankar, who is also the Chairman of FICCI's Media and Entertainment committee, also said the next government's "regulatory agenda" for the media will play an important role in the growth of the sector in the coming years, observing that the process has now been stalled after some progress.
"The regulatory agenda is one of the most crucial parameters that will shape how this industry will look like in the next 5, 10 and 15 years, and after some progress in the last few years, this agenda has now completely stalled," the chief of media house Star India said at a FICCI event here.
He hoped that the next few days will give the media industry an opportunity to lay the foundations of a "constructive relationship" with a new government for the next five years.
"It is therefore appropriate that the weeks before the elections is the right time to call for a new contract between the government and the media. One that reaffirms both stakeholders to the theme of this year's FICCI Frames: Transforming Lives," he said.
The central principle of this contract should be the recognition that this industry is a unique and powerful economic enterprise, he added.
Noting that no relationship is more important than the one between the government and the media, Shankar said the country's first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru's successors, both in politics and the media, have strayed a long away from the aspirational vision of thw role of media in Indian society.
"Instead, it is now a broken relationship, and one that has dire consequences for both the industry as well as the government," he said.
The failure to establish credibility and importance has meant the industry perennially stays on a back foot, defending itself against every new wave of regulation aimed only at further curtailing its wings, he noted.
"In return, the government has not been able to leverage either the impact that mass media can have in India or harness the power of media as an economic engine that can create jobs and wealth," he added.
Shankar said the next government should recognize that it matters what the agenda of the Information and Broadcasting Ministry is.
"It matters what the Ministry sees as its dominant priority," he said, and asked, "Do you see media as a tool for transforming lives thereby using it in the interest of serving the population or as something so powerful that it needs to be controlled?".