New Delhi: The Prime Minister’s Office today ordered the Information and Broadcasting Ministry to withdraw its press release on fake news, holding that the decision on what constitutes fake news should be left to press bodies. According to official sources, the PMO felt that the government should not interfere in the matter.
I and B ministry officials confirmed that the directives from the PMO on the issue have been received and said the press release is likely to be withdrawn shortly. The ministry had yesterday announced measures to contain fake news, saying a journalist’s accreditation could be permanently cancelled if he or she is found generating or propagating fake news.
The guidelines drew a sharp reaction from the Congress and several journalists. According to the amended guidelines for the accreditation of journalists, if the publication or telecast of fake news was confirmed, the accreditation of that journalist would be suspended for 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 said in the release.
However, the press release did not define what is fake news. “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,” I and B Minister Smriti Irani tweeted earlier in the day.
In another tweet, she said, “@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.”