- The Information & Broadcast Ministry has withdrawn its set of stringent measures to deal with fake news after the Prime Minister’s Office directed the same.
- 2nd April, 2018: The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting has amended the guidelines for accreditation of journalists.
- 3rd April, 2018: Information and Broadcasting (I&B) Ministry had withdrawn its amended guidelines.
Reason behind the amendment:
- Increasing instances of fake news in various mediums, including print and electronic media.
Reason behind the withdrawal:
- The press organizations had threatened to launch protests against the move.
- The government did not want any raging controversy on the freedom of speech.
- There is no guarantee that these rules will not be misused to harass honest reporters.
- There is no concrete definition on ‘fake news’.
Impact of fake news:
- Hurts democratic ideals and principles,
- Cause problems in good governance,
- Cause market failures,
- Rise to terrorist radicalization, and
- Create biased viewpoints.
On ethical ground:
- It adversely impacts:
- Common brotherhood and raises intolerance,
- Right to freedom of expression v/s responsibility of generating ethical information, and
- Moral duty to develop a scientific temper, humanism and spirit of enquiry and reform.
- Certification of competence in a specified subject or areas of expertise, and of the integrity of an agency, firm, group, or person, awarded by a duly recognized and respected accrediting organization.
Amendments in the guidelines for accreditation of journalists (which have been withdrawn):
- Instances of fake news would get referred to:
- The Press Council of India (PCI) if it pertains to print media and
- News Broadcasters Association (NBA) if it relates to electronic media.
Regulating agencies will examine:
- The `Norms of Journalistic Conduct’ and `Code of Ethics and Broadcasting Standards’ prescribed by the PCI and NBA.
- Determination is expected to be completed within 15 days.
After determination of fake news:
- The accreditation shall be suspended for:
- A period of 6 months – first violation,
- One year – second violation, and
- Cancelled permanently – third violation.
Press Information Bureau (PIB) accreditation:
- Government accreditation is limited to the residents of Delhi, Noida, Greater Noida, Faridabad, Bahadurgarh, Ghaziabad and Gurgaon.
- On average, an estimated 3,000 press accreditation cards are issued annually by the government.
- Correspondents or camerapersons – five years’ experience as a full-time working journalist
- Freelance journalists – 15 years’ experience.
- Note: The I&B ministry doesn’t issue accreditation cards to journalists working in digital media.
- Journalists access to government buildings within Delhi-NCR,
- Note: Journalists in the other parts of the country have to seek state government-issued press accreditation cards.
- Railway fare concessions,
- Central Government Health Scheme (CGHS) card and
- A certain number of government bungalows.
- Self-regulation is the key to balance freedom of speech and autonomy of media with the objective content regulation.
- Press should not overcast its public duties over its private goals.
- Information are ought to be objective and of public interest.
- ‘Fake news’ should be legally described.
- Strict punitive measures for whoever encourages ‘fake news’.