Amended guidelines for accreditation of journalists to regulate “fake news”, withdrawn after an order from President’s office

The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting had amended the Guidelines for Accreditation of Journalists (as on 02-04-2018) for regulation of fake news, which was later withdrawn (as on 03-04-2018), after an order for cancellation from the President’s office. After top editors and opposition parties accused the government of trying to control the media, the President’s office, said that such question of checking of fake news should be left to the media watchdog, i.e. The Press Council of India.

However, this amendment was made in the wake of the increasing instances of fake news in various mediums including print and electronic media. As per the amendment, on receiving any complaints apropos instances of fake news, the same had to be 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. These regulating agencies were expected to complete the determination within 15 days. Once the complaint was registered, the correspondent/journalist whoever created and/or propagated the fake news, if accredited, would have had the accreditation suspended till such time the determination was made by the regulating agencies (mentioned above) regarding the fake news. The Accreditation Committee of the PIB consisting of representatives of both PCI and NBA would have been invariably reached out to (as per the amendment) for validating any accreditation request of any news media agency.

In case of any confirmation of publication/telecast of fake news having been confirmed by any of the above mentioned agencies, the accreditation (as per the amendment) was to be suspended for

  • a period of 6 months in the 1st violation and
  • for 1 year in the case of 2nd violation and
  • in the event of 3rd violation it would have been cancelled permanently.

Furthermore, the regulatory agencies were, while examining the requests seeking accreditation, supposed to 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. The amendment made it obligatory for the journalists to abide by the said guidelines.

[Press Release no. 1527401, dt. 03-04-2018]

Ministry of Information & Broadcasting

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