Friday, November 4, 2011


It is perhaps not commonly realised that there are to-day less than a dozen countries that have genuine freedom of the Press. And even in countries which have enjoyed democratic freedom for centuries, there are many ways in which restraints can be put upon the newspapers. Speaking at the Commonwealth Press Conference at New Delhi, Mr. Nehru said that the Government of India have “resisted the temptation” to impose restrictions on the Press. It must be admitted that backward countries which are new to democracy find it hard to maintain Press freedom. All the same, it is unfortunate that in Asia, the Press has lost even the freedom that it formerly had. In Pakistan, not only has a major newspaper and Press Agency been taken over by the regime but even the other papers dare not criticise the military Government. In Burma, editors of newspapers are constantly arrested and their presses seized. In Indonesia, the Press has been made completely subservient to the Government and at the end of last year, Pedoman , an outstanding newspaper co-operatively run by journalists, was banned. Now, the independent Press of Ceylon is to be muzzled. The Government proposes to set up a Press Council which is to control the news as well as the views of newspapers on pain of closure and there is to be no appeal from its decisions. The leading journals are to be nationalised. The only silver lining to this bleak outlook is that in those countries where the Press is free, leading editors and pressmen do their best to protest against censorship and control wherever they may be imposed. It is difficult for authoritarian governments to maintain the pretence of democracy when they are known to have strangled Press freedom.

Source: The Hindu

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