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I&B Ministry withdraws controversial fake news circular after PM Modi's intervention

Source: DNA

I&B Ministry has withdrawn the controversial fake news circular shortly after Prime Minister's office asked them to do so. The u-turn comes less than 24 hours after Centre made amendments to the guidelines for Accreditation of Journalists, leading to massive outrage.

Facing massive pushback, I&B Minister Smriti Irani had urged journalists to come forward with 'positive suggestions' and to meet her. But, with the circular being withdrawn, it looks to be seen if the ministry has any other alternative plans to tackle the menace of fake news. 

According to ANI, the PMO has directed that the press release regarding fake news be withdrawn and the matter should only be addressed in Press Council of India.

"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. Now on receiving any complaints of such instances of fake news, the same would get referred to the Press Council of India if it pertains to print media and to News Broadcasters Association (NBA) if it relates to electronic media for determination of the news item being fake or not.

"Determination is expected to be completed within 15 days by these regulating agencies. Once the complaint is registered for determination of fake news, the correspondent/journalist whoever created and/or propagated the fake news will, if accredited, have the accreditation suspended till such time the determination regarding the fake news is made by the regulating agencies mentioned above.

"The Accreditation Committee of the PIB which consists of representative of both PCI and NBA shall be invariably be reached out for validating any accreditation request of any new media agency. While any confirmation or publication or telecast of fake news having been confirmed by any of these agencies, the accreditation shall be suspended for a period of six months in the first violation and for one year in the case of second violation and in the event of the third violation, it would be cancelled permanently.

"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," the release reads.

The guidelines were formulated in order to clamp down on "fake news", thereby suspending accreditation of journalists from the time any complaint is registered.

Once registered, the case will be referred to the Press Council of India (PCI) for the print media and to News Broadcasters Association (NBA) in case of electronic media. "Determination is expected to be completed within 15 days by these regulating agencies. Once the complaint is registered for determination of fake news, the correspondent/journalist whoever created and/or propagated the fake news will, if accredited, have the accreditation suspended till such time the determination regarding the fake news is made by the regulating agencies mentioned above," a government release stated.

If found guilty, the release said, accreditation of the said journalist will be suspended for a period of 6 months in the first violation, for one year in the case of a second violation and in the event of third violation, it will be cancelled permanently.

The release also added that while examining the requests for 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 are adhered to by the journalists.

The Congress had lashed out at the Central government for promoting a ‘lame duck portal’ that claims to identify fake news.

"Fascism reaches its ‘nadir’ as a shaky Modi Govt, caught in its web of lies, seeks to muzzle all independent voices in media through   fallacious rules! Will the 13 Union Ministers answer for the lame duck portal tarnishing mainstream media? (sic)," tweeted party spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala.

Story first appeared in DNA on 3rd April 2018

STORY BY

Mumbai Press Club
Editor
Article posted on 03/04/2018

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