Fake news order: PM Modi wants guideline spiked; Smriti Irani says more than happy to engage with Press

Fake news order: The Information and Broadcasting Ministry press release had stated that if a journalist was found to have “created and/or propagated” fake news, the scribe's accreditation would be suspended or permanently cancelled.

By: Express Web Desk | New Delhi | Updated: April 3, 2018 6:09:12 pm
narendra modi, narendra modi fake news order, I&B Ministry, journalists’ accreditation, Smriti Irani, fake news, free press, press council of india, PIB accreditation, blacklist journalists, Indian express Fake News order: The PM’s order comes after the I&B Ministry’s amendment created a furore in the media, with journalists slamming the move to impinge upon the independence of media. (File Photo)

After Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s intervention, the Information and Broadcasting Ministry on Tuesday withdrew its press release which stated that journalists who “created” or “propagated” fake news would have lost their accreditation with the government. In a “clarification” issued on Tuesday, the ministry said, “This is to inform that the Press release on Fake news regulation issued yesterday i.e., 02 April 2018 stands withdrawn.”

READ | LIVE: PMO wants guidelines on ‘fake’ news withdrawn

Following the withdrawal of the press release, Information and Broadcasting Minister Smriti Irani tweeted that the PIB accreditation guidelines asking Press Council of India and News Broadcasters Association to define and act against ‘fake news’ have generated debate. “Several journalists and organisations have reached out giving positive suggestions regarding the same,” she said. Irani said the I&B Ministry was “more than happy to engage with journalist bodies or organisations wanting to give suggestions so that together we can fight the menace of ‘fake news’ and uphold ethical journalism”. The minister said “interested journalists and/or organisations” were free to meet her at the ministry.

Sources said the Prime Minister had “directed that the press release regarding fake news be withdrawn and the matter should only be addressed in Press Council of India”. On Monday, the ministry had issued a release that stated on receiving any complaint of a journalist pushing instances of fake news, the print and television regulatory bodies, the Press Council of India (PCI) and the News Broadcasters Association (NBA), respectively would determine the veracity of the news and if found to be fake, the journalist’s PIB accreditation could be cancelled permanently.

“Noticing the increasing instances of fake news in various mediums including print and electronic media, the Government has amended the Guidelines for Accreditation of Journalists,” the Monday press release said. On receiving “any complaints of such instances of fake news, the same would get referred to PCI and NBA and the determination is expected to be completed within 15 days,” the order said. As per the rules, the journalist’s accreditation would be suspended for the time taken by these bodies to ascertain whether the news was fake or not.

PM Narendra Modi Fake news order The press release had justified the amendment by claiming an increase in the “instances of fake news in various mediums including print and electronic media”. (File Photo)

“While any confirmation of publication or telecast of fake news having been confirmed by any of these agencies, the accreditation shall be suspended for a period of 6 months in the first violation and for one year in the case of 2nd violation and in the event of 3rd violation it would be cancelled permanently,” the ministry had said in its statement.

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Monday’s statement had also mentioned that “while examining the requests seeking accreditation, the regulatory agencies will examine 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. It would be obligatory for journalists to abide by these guidelines”.

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