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Government amends guidelines for accreditation of journalists to curb fake news

Withdraws the circular after mixed reactions and outrage

To regulate the increasing instances of fake news in various mediums including print and electronic media, Information and Broadcasting Ministry has amended guidelines for accreditation of journalists in its circular issued on April 2, 2018 where Press Council of India (PCI) and News Broadcasters Association (NBA) will play a bigger role in curbing the menace.

While the amendment is for accreditation of journalists in print and electronic media, Union Minister for Information and Broadcasting and Textiles Smriti Zubin Irani clarified in a tweet that committee comprising of senior officers, representatives of PCI, NBA and IBF has been set up for regulations/policy for digital broadcasting and news portals (sic). "Till such time, the regulation is not implemented and the rules cannot be enforced for news portals by industry," said the minister.

Now, on receiving complaints of fake news, the information will be forwarded to PCI if it pertains to print media and NBA if it pertains to electronic media, for determination of the news item being fake or not.

The circular said that the complaint needs to be resolved within 15 days by these regulating agencies. Once the complaint has been registered with the concerned agency, the accreditation of the concerned journalist will be suspended till the resolution of the complaint.

The Accreditation Committee of the Press Information Bureau, the ministry said, which consists of representatives of both the Press Council of India and NBA will be reached out for any accreditation requests by journalists.

If publishing or telecast of fake news is confirmed, the statement said, the journalist’s accreditation shall be suspended for 6 months for first violation, one year for second violation and will be permanently cancelled if there is a third violation.

While examining the request for accreditation, the agencies would examine if the journalist adheres to the “Norms of Journalistic Conduct” and “Code of Ethics and Broadcasting Standards” prescribed by PCI and NBA are adhered to by the journalist as a part of functioning.

MIB firmly said that it would be obligatory for journalists to abide by these guidelines.

Update: Following the mixed reactions and outrage over the move, government has withdrawn the press release.

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