Indian State of Karnataka Considering Laws to “Control” the Media

On Sunday May 19 Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy revealed that he and his government in Karnataka are looking to change the law in order to “control” the media – electronic media in particular – in an effort to prevent “irresponsible reporting.”

According to the Times of India, Kumaraswamy said that the media had “ignored his good deeds” and “focused on false reports,” so he is now considering a crackdown on television media and journalists.

“Though former minister and JD(S) chief A.H. Vishwanath, during his speech, said even Prime Minister Narendra Modi is scared to address the media, it’s not the same for me,” said the southwestern state’s Chief Minister.

Kumaraswamy said: “I have always had cordial relations with the media, but now, because of irresponsible reporting, especially about politicians who they treat like jokers, I don’t bother to address the media as much as I used to.”

Kumaraswamy said that the media is not covering serious topics such as the state’s severe drought, and is instead publishing “sensational false stories.”

He went on to say that television channels should close for the day if they run out of substantial news stories rather than “airing false reports and having discussions according to their whims and fancies.”

He also said that his success as a leader should be attributed to 66 million people in the state who believe in his leadership, and not due to “favorable reporting.”

“Do you think the government will keep quiet? The government is mulling over a law so that there is some control on irresponsible reporting,” he said.

As of yet it is unclear what measures Karnataka’s lawmakers will introduce in order to “control” the media, but the state won’t be the first to implement such legislation.

With the rise of ‘fake news’, a handful of the world’s governments, including Singapore, Russia, France, and South Korea, have introduced laws that punish citizens and journalists that spread false information online.

These types of laws generally permit the authorities to remove online content that is deemed to be ‘fake news’, and often includes information that goes in opposition to the ruling government and its policies.

India has recently tightened its grasp over citizens’ internet freedom, blocking sites and services like TikTok, Reddit, and VPN websites, as well as online pornography.