Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley Sunday said that when he was Defence Minister two young men in Kashmir Valley died in a confrontation with the Army.
“Before the news appeared in the conventional media, some people posted on social media that an unfair incident had taken place,” reports quoting Jaitley as having said.
He said that the news reached him so quickly through social media that even the Army Chief was not aware about it.
The minister said that as he was not convinced by the Army’s explanation, he had decided to post on social media, regretting the incident.
“This was probably the first time that within minutes of an incident the government expressed regret,” he said, adding that instead of leading to huge protests, the government managed to send a message that it was acting responsibly.
Jaitley, who dwelt at length on issues related to the media, said there was an ongoing debate on the quantum of foreign investment allowed in media.
He said that the traditional argument has been that media controls the minds so there should be limit on such investments. The counter argument, he said, is that technology has made this distinction irrelevant as a 100 percent foreign channel can be beamed into the country while foreign news content is accessible digitally. The question to consider is whether more equity should be allowed to come in from outside or not when there is an uncertain financial model of many media organisations, he added.
Elaborating on the state of media, Jaitley said the advertisement revenues are shared by mediums like Radio, newspapers, channels and digital media. In such a scenario, the financial model of most media organisations has become challenging and in some cases suspect, he said. He said that in the countryside, there are some local based channels, which will be circulating news without adequate resource.
“Some of these organisations get resources from invisible sources, which could be paid news,” he said. At the times of elections, it is an open secret that a very large part of many candidates’ election budget is spent on managing news, he said.
The Election Commission, he said, makes attempts to curb it but because of the nature of transaction, it is difficult to detect, he said. He also referred to an incident to illustrate the importance of social media.