Prime Minister Narendra Modi orders withdrawal of ‘fake news’ press release

A day after the I& B Ministry issued a press release stating that accreditation of a journalist could be permanently cancelled if the scribe is found generating or propagating fake news, (as per reports) Prime Minister Narendra Modi has directed the I& B Ministry to withdraw the said press release and said that the matter should only be addressed in Press Council of India.

Following this, the Information and Broadcasting Ministry withdrew the press release.

Information and Broadcasting Minister Smriti Irani on Tuesday tweeted, “PIB Accreditation Guidelines asking Press Council of India & News Broadcasters Association to define & act against ‘fake news’ have generated debate. Several journalists & organisations have reached out giving positive suggestions regarding the same.”

 “.@MIB_India is more than happy to engage with journalist body or organisation/s wanting to give suggestions so that together we can fight the menace of ‘fake news’ & uphold ethical journalism. Interested journalists and/or organisations may feel free to meet me at @MIB_India,” she said.

The press release mentioned that under the amended Accreditation Guidelines if the publication or telecast of fakenews is confirmed, the accreditation of that journalist would be suspended for a period of six months in the first violation and for one year in case of a second violation. In case of a third violation, his or her accreditation would be cancelled permanently.

It said that any complaint of instances of fake news would be referred to the Press Council of India (PCI), if it pertains to print media, and to the News Broadcasters Association (NBA), if it relates to the electronic media, for determination of the news item being fake or not which determination was expected to be completed within 15 days.

Once the complaint got registered for determination of fake news, the accreditation of the journalist, whoever “created and/or propagated” the fake news, was to be suspended till the determination regarding the fake news is made.

The Accreditation Committee of the Press Information Bureau (PIB), which consists of representatives of both the PCI and the NBA, would have been reached out for validating any accreditation request of any news media agency.

While examining the requests seeking accreditation, the regulatory agencies would have been checked whether the ‘Norms of Journalistic Conduct’ and ‘Code of Ethics and Broadcasting Standards’, prescribed by the PCI and NBA respectively, are adhered to by the journalists as part of their functioning.

The Press Release further stated that it would be obligatory for journalists to abide by these guidelines.

The Press Release drew huge flak from the press industry who saw it as a curb on freedom of speech and expression, resulting into the PMO asking the I&B Ministry to withdraw the press release.

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