Free speech still being questioned: Star India chairman

Mumbai, March 12 (IANS) Listing challenges faced by the media industry, Star India chairman Uday Shankar Tuesday said freedom of speech was still being questioned even after over 60 years of independence.

Shankar said it was "shocking that there groups who still continue to debate on the right amount of freedom that can be granted to the media".

Shankar, who is also the chairman of the Ficci media and entertainment committee, was speaking at the inaugural session of the 14th edition of Ficci-Frames 2013, the annual convention of the media and entertainment industry here in Mumbai.

"We all agree that the role of media is to question status quo. But with the right to question must come the right to provoke and the right to offend. In the absence of these, there is no debate and without debate there is no clarity. But we seem to be regressing in this area," he said.

Citing the example of popular talk show "Satyamev Jayate", which was hosted by Bollywood actor Aamir Khan, he said that when the show pointed out weaknesses in the medical system, doctors were offended.

He added that it was time to recognise that free speech is sacrosanct, not the right to be offended.

Shankar was named chairman of Ficci's media and entertainment committee after the demise of Yash Chopra.

He added that the next milestone for the Indian film industry is to produce a Rs.1,000-crore blockbuster. "Celebrating its 100th year, Indian cinema has shown proof of its enduring followership and in recent times has set new benchmarks at the box office."

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