Smriti Irani says Centre willing to engage with journalists' bodies to fight

Posted April 04, 2018

In its statement, the Editors Guild of India said it acknowledges the intervention of the PMO to withdraw the I&B Ministry's notification, but remains deeply disturbed. The guidelines had said that complaints pertaining to fake news by journalists would be put under a scanner by regulating agencies under Press Council of India.

However, amid strong opposition by journalists and heated debate over the issue, Prime Minister Narendra Modi intervened and ordered withdrawal of the release and the move was rolled back.

The ministry did not define "fake news", but said it would refer complaints about it in print to the Press Council of India, with suspect cases on television going to the News Broadcasters Association.

The Prime minister was also of the view that the government should not interfere in the matter, the official added. On the second instance, the journalist will face a 1 year suspension and then permanent suspension on the third violation.

However, the guidelines by the I&B Ministry was seen by the media as an attempt to control freedom of press in an election year.

Veteran journalist H.K. Dua said, "The press release is totally bogus and it has unsafe connotations".

The Congress said fascism has touched its peak as it sought to "muzzle" independent voices through "fallacious" rules.

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Press Club of India President Gautam Lahiri told IANS that they would explore legal options on the arbitrary way in which the government was constituting the Central Press Accreditation Committee.

The U-turn came hours after the ministry announced that reporters' press credentials could be suspended simply for an accusation of spreading fake news. The AAP and CPI-M likened the situation to the "emergency". The bill does not appear to clearly define fake news but it allows for broad consequences, including fines of over 120,000 US dollars as well as jail.

He hopes that it will lead to the setting up of a "trusted media label" in a world increasingly assaulted by fake news.

"In the new public arena in which false information circulates faster than real news, the defence of journalism requires reversing this trend by giving a real advantage to all those who reliably produce news and information, whatever their status", Deloire said.

CPI (M) General Secretary Sitaram Yechury recalled the fight for press freedom during Emergency and said his party condemned the duplicitous move.

It covers digital publications and social media and will apply to offenders who maliciously spread "fake news" inside and outside Malaysia, including foreigners, if Malaysia or a Malaysian citizen were affected.

The complaints are further dealt by the Council following the laid down procedure in the Press Council Act and Press Council (Procedure for Inquiry) Regulations.

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