Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday cancelled his own government’s controversial circular that categorically stated journalists would be blacklisted for generating fake news.
Modi said the matter of fake news should be addressed only by the Press Council of India.
On Monday, the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting had send out a press release stating the accreditation of a journalist could be suspended or permanently cancelled if the scribe was found generating or propagating fake news, while it came out with stringent measures to contain the menace.
Journalists and opposition parties had described the new guidelines as an attack on the freedom of press.
After the Prime Minister’s order on Tuesday, Information and Broadcasting minister Smriti Irani tweeted, “PIB Accreditation Guidelines asking Press Council of India & News Broadcasters Association to define & act against ‘fake news’ have generated debate. 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.”
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.