PMO Tells I&B Ministry to Withdraw Fake News Guidelines

After the PMO's statement, I&B minister Smriti Irani said she is "happy to engage with journalists".

New Delhi: The Prime Minister’s Office on Tuesday advised the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (MIB) to withdraw its press release on fake news and said the decision on what amounts to fake news should be left to bodies such the Press Council of India, official sources told PTI.

The MIB had announced measures to contain fake news on Monday, 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 MIB 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.

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The press release, however, didn’t define what constitutes fake news.

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.

The guidelines were questioned by journalists and the Opposition.

“MIB 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,” tweeted Smriti Irani after PMO ordered the her ministry to withdraw its press release on fake news.