Journalists to lose accreditation for propagating fake news: In Centre’s latest crackdown, what new rules state and how they will work

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New Delhi | Updated: April 3, 2018 10:44:20 AM

In a stringent measure aimed at checking "increasing instances" of fake news, the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting has issued amended guidelines for journalists accredited by the Press Information Bureau.

SMRITI IRANI FAKE NEWSThe central government has said that news pertaining to print media will be handled by PCI and stories related to electronic media will be sent for determination to NBA.

In a stringent measure aimed at checking “increasing instances” of fake news, the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting has issued amended guidelines for journalists accredited by the Press Information Bureau. The ministry has said that complaints against instances of fake news will be sent to the Press Council of India (PCI) and News Broadcasters Association (NBA), for print and electronic news reports respectively. These bodies will verify the authenticity and credibility of the news. If the news is found to be a fake one, then action will be taken against the journalist.

Here is how the new rules will work:

1. The central government has said that news pertaining to print media will be handled by PCI and stories related to electronic media will be sent for determination to NBA.

2. Once the complaint is registered for determination of fake news, the accreditation of correspondent and journalist concerned will be suspended till determination by the regulating agencies. The determination process is expected to be completed within 15 days by these regulating agencies, the central government said.

3. Subsequently, the Accreditation Committee of the PIB will invariably be reached out for validating any accreditation request of any news media agency. PIB consists of both PCI and NBA.

4. If the news is found fake by any of these agencies, the accreditation will be suspended for a period of 6 months in the first violation. The accreditation would be suspended for one year in the case of 2nd violation. The accreditation of reporter concerned will be cancelled permanently if he/she is found guilty of violating guidelines for third time.

5. Further, the government has said that while examining the requests seeking accreditation, the regulatory agencies will also 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.

Opposition Criticism

The fresh guidelines issued by the I&B ministry has come in for criticism from the opposition. Senior Congress leader Ahmed Patel lashed out at the government over guidelines. Patel raised apprehensions over who would determine if a reported news item is “fake” and said that rules might be misused to harass reporters. Union minister Smriti Irani, however, responded to him saying, “Glad to see you awake Ahmed Patel 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”.

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