OUR CORRESPONDENT/ NEW DELHI
Following protest from different Journalists’ bodies, Government today withdrawn the controversial “Guidelines for accreditation of Journalists amended to regulate Fake News”.
Earlier today, Prime Minister Narendra Modi directed that the press release regarding fake news be withdrawn.
He also said the matter should only be addressed in the Press Council of India.
Ministry of Information and Broadcasting yesterday issued “Guidelines for Accreditation of Journalists amended to regulate Fake news”, stating that if a journalist is found to have “created and/or propagated” fake news, the journalist’s accreditation will be suspended or permanently cancelled.
As per the amended guidelines for the accreditation of journalists, if the publication or telecast of fake news is confirmed, the accreditation of that journalist will 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 will be cancelled permanently, the information and broadcasting ministry said in a release.
In a press release issued Monday evening, it said that the Press Council of India and News Broadcasters Association (NBA), the two regulatory bodies for print and television media respectively, will determine whether the news is fake or not.
While I&B Minister Smriti Irani said that both these bodies were not “regulated/operated” by the government, her Ministry’s statement was the one that defined the punishment and left both the definition of fake news and the nature of the complaint open-ended.
Once a complaint is registered for “determination of fake news,” the Ministry’s statement said, the accreditation of the journalist who “created and/or propagated the fake news” will be “suspended till such time the determination regarding the fake news is made by the regulating agencies mentioned above”.
It also stated that the determination is “expected to be completed within 15 days” by the regulating agencies.
A journalist is accredited with the Press Information Bureau of the Centre after she/he has least “five years’ experience as a full-time working journalist.” Freelance journalists need to have 15 years experience and foreign correspondents five years with a valid work visa.
The press release justified the amendment by claiming an increase in the “instances of fake news in various mediums including print and electronic media.”