Press law may be defined as a set of rules by which the media persons of a country regulate their conduct in relation to their fellow journalists citizens and the state. Freedom is limited on every hand from infancy to the grave. We are restrained, first by mere physical inability to perform many acts appetites, our desire to excel in sports and our ability to perform labor are limited by such fundamental restrictions. We are restrained, second by the rights of others. We exist in civilized society the first rule of which is that we must live on terms with our families and neighbors. There are many things we should like to do if we had not learned from early childhood to subdue our wills to what we fully recognize as the prerogatives of our fellows under the conventions of the society in which we live. And third our freedom is limited by laws which is merely expression of certain limitations prescribed by Government.
There rs a classic story that Mr. Frank Luther Mott mentions in his article ‘News controls’. It is a classic story of a man who was arrested for swinging his aim in a crowd and hitting other man on the nose. Arraingned in court, the prisoner asked indignantly, “Why, Judge, hava’nt I got the right to swing my ann in a free country?” To which the judge replied, “Your right to swing your ann, Sir, ends where the other man’s nose begins, Ten dollars.” Law affects press as it does any other institutional division of life’s activities. The law prohibits the publication of matter which amounts to an incitement to rebellion against the Government or destruction of the Government besides preaching violence, endangering, the public peace and safety. Libel of an individual, a published defamation of his character generally described as Civil, Libel, is an offence, punishable by indictment, requiring the newspapers to pay damages. Laws which prohibit the publications of obscene-matter and advertisement ete; are common Indulgence in anti-social practices are common of which journalists of the Pakistan are accused of include sensationalism, colouring or distorting the news, propaganda element in the news columns and falsehood in coverage as politics. Press laws are the CHECKS for these antisocial practices in journalism. Sometimes, laws play the role of the protector of the “Community interests”.
Law Guarantees Freedom
Law guarantees freedom of the press in a broad general way but does not permit unlimited publication of the news comments, or art without due regard to certain rights, privilege and considerations
In USA, freedom of the press is set forth in the first amendment to the constitution of the U.S. as a basic right of the people. “Congress shall make no law, respecting an establishment of religion”, or prohibiting the free exercise therefore; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances. Although press freedom has been guaranteed in U.S. constitution yet the U.S. journalists were prohibited to visit GRENADA. Here lies the “FREEDOM IN PRACTICE”, in the country which is known as the custodian of human freedom.
Controversy of genuine and in genuine restrictions is a universal one. A free responsible press is the only solution of this conflict.
There has been a growing dissatisfaction over the way, the press functioned. The commission of freedom of the press set forth the conditions of 20th century press operations in the United States, directing discussion of the social justification of the media and their adaptation to changing needs of this society. A new concept emerged and Peterson popularized the social responsibility theory (SRT) of the press. Frank I,..Luther Mott, wisely points out that freedom, like all concepts, is ~relative and . theoretical. While pointing out that freedom is relative and limited, Mott also quickly observes what there is a limit to the .- limitation on freedom. Mott points out that in all political structures, except in a democracy, government is the enemy of the free press. The relationship of the media and the government, even under democratic conditions will never achieve a completely harmonious relationship. .
Under the libertarian society, freedom was the basic idea, but the (SRT) links freedom with responsibility. There are various interpretations of the sense of responsibility in different systems. According to Marxist Journalist Motor Sturua, Correspondent of Izvestiya, “We must remember that our responsibility (to serve Cb~unist cause) is greater than our rights. “We should be responsible to our social system (Communist System). In libertanian society foremost responsibility is ‘Right’ of people. The explainers and defenders of this theory mantain that they are libertarian but socially responsible. Similarly, in an Islamic society, one is accountable before Almighty Allah. In order to realise the gos! of responsibility, the Commision of freedom of the
press had suggested some basic requirements of press performance and ways of improving it. Briefly stated these requirements are
(a) That the press should present a truthful, comprehensive and intelligent account of the days events in a context which gives them meaning.
(b) That it must project a representative picture of the constituent groups in the society.
(c) That it must project a representative picture of the constituent groups in the society
(d) That it must present and classify the goals and values of the society.
(e) That it must give readers “FUll access to the days intelligence
According to a statement of the commission on freedom of the press resulting conception of freedom of the press may be summarized as follows.–
As will all freedom, press freedom means freedom from and also freedom for
A free press is free from compulsions. Source may be governmental or social, eiernal or internal. From compulsions not from pressures: for no press can be free from pressures except in a moribund society, devoid of contending forces and beliefs.
A free press is free from the expression of opinion in all its phases. It is free for the achievement of those goals of press service on which its own ideals and the requirements of the community combine and which existing techniques make possible. For these ends it must have full command over technical sources, I financial strength, reasonable access to sources of information at home and abroad, and the necessary facilities for bringing information to the national market. The press must grow to the measure ofthis market
For the purpose there is a third aspect of freedom. The free press must be free to all who have something worth saying to the public, since the essential object for which a free press is valued is that ideas deserving a public hearing shall have a public hearing.