PM Modi Directs Withdrawal of Fake News Order After Uproar Over Press Freedom


New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi has directed that the press release regarding fake news be withdrawn and the matter should only be addressed in Press Council of India.

Sources said the PMO believes that any decision on fake news should be taken by bodies like Press Council of India (PCI) and News Broadcasters Association (NBA). The PMO has advised the I&B Ministry to withdraw its press release on fake news, the sources added.

On Monday, the government had said the accreditation of a journalist could be permanently cancelled if the scribe is found generating or propagating fake news, as it came out with stringent measures to contain the menace.

Congress leader Ahmed Patel had questioned the government’s attempt to check fake news, asking whether it was aimed at preventing journalists from reporting news uncomfortable to the establishment.
He also asked who will determine if a reported news item is “fake” and expressed apprehension that rules might be misused to harass report

Union minister Smriti Irani, however, responded to him saying the Press Council of India (PCI) and the News Broadcasters Association (NBA), both of which are not controlled by the government, will ascertain whether a news is fake or not.

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 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, the information and broadcasting ministry said in a release.

It said 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. This determination is expected to be completed within 15 days by these agencies, the ministry said.

Once the complaint is registered for determination of fake news, the accreditation of the journalist, whoever created and/or propagated the fake news, will be suspended till the determination regarding the fake news is made, the ministry said.

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

While examining the requests seeking accreditation, the regulatory agencies would check 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 ministry said. It would be obligatory for journalists to abide by these guidelines, it said.​

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