NEW DELHI: Prime Minister Narendra Modi has directed that the press release regarding fake news be withdrawn. The PM said that the matter should only be addressed in Press Council of India. The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting had on Monday issued guidelines for accreditation of journalists to regulate fake news.
In the release, the ministry had said: "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 (PCI) if it pertains to print media & to News Broadcasters Association (NBA) if it relates to electronic media, for determination of the news item being fake or not."
As per the guidelines issued, if the publication or telecast of fake news is confirmed, the accreditation of the 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, the accreditation would be cancelled permanently.
Shortly after the decision, Congress leader Ahmed Patel put forth a series of questions regarding its implications for honest journalists, leading to a prompt rebuttal from Union Minister Smriti Irani.
Patel tweeted: "I appreciate the attempt to control fake news but few questions for my understanding: 1. What is guarantee that these rules will not be misused to harass honest reporters? 2.Who is going to decide what constitutes fake news? 3. Is it not possible that motivated complaints will be filed to suspend accreditation until enquiry is on? 4.What is guarantee that these guidelines will check fake news or is it an attempt to prevent genuine reporters from reporting news uncomfortable to the establishment?"
Replying to the questions, Irani assured that the Centre has no role to play in the matter. "Glad to see you awake @ahmedpatel ji whether a News article / broadcast is fake or not will be determined by PCI & NBA; both of whom I’m sure you know are not controlled/ operated by GOI," she tweeted.
.@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. 2/2
— Smriti Z Irani (@smritiirani) April 3, 2018
Irani later said that PIB Accreditation Guidelines have generated debate and suggestions will be taken into account. "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 tweeted on Tuesday.