PMO Withdraws Press Release On Fake News

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New Delhi: A day after the Information and Broadcasting Ministry announced measures to tackle the menace of fake news, threatening journalists with revocation of accreditation, the Prime Minister’s Office on Tuesday directed that the press release regarding fake news be withdrawn. Amid criticism by the journalistic community, the PMO upheld the supremacy of the News Broadcasters Association (NBA) and the Press Council of India (PCI), directing that the press release regarding fake news be withdrawn and the matter should only be addressed in the PCI.

On Monday, the I&B Ministry came out with stringent measures to contain the menace of fake news, saying the accreditation of a journalist could be permanently cancelled if the scribe is found generating or propagating fake news. 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 ministry currently held by Smriti Irani said in a release.

As per the press release, any complaint of instances of fake news would be referred to the PCI, if it pertains to print media, and to the 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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