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Fake news: After widespread criticism and PMO directive, I&B ministry withdraws press release on fake news | India News

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NEW DELHI: After widespread criticism of new rules issued by the government yesterday to check fake news, the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) today directed the information and broadcasting ministry to withdraw its press statement about the new rules. The ministry duly withdrew them.

The PMO further said issues to do with fake news should only be addressed in and by the Press Council of India (PCI), the regulatory body for print journalism.

The PMO’s directive came minutes after I&B minister Smriti Irani tweeted saying her ministry is “is more than happy to engage with” journalists who want to check fake news.

The government yesterday said the accreditation of a journalist could be permanently cancelled if the scribe is found generating or propagating fake news, reported PTI. As per amended guidelines for journalists’ accreditation, if the publication or telecast of fake news is confirmed, the accreditation of the journalist responsible for it would be suspended for six months in the first violation and for one year in case of a second violation.

The
Congress, the
CPM and a whole host of journalists questioned the Centre’s new rules to check the spread of fake news saying it was trying to muzzle press freedom and suppress uncomfortable news about the government.

Who determines what news is fake is also an issue of contention, tweeted Congress leader Ahmed Patel. The new rules leave a lot of room for misuse.

“Is it not possible that motivated complaints will be filed to suspend accreditation until an enquiry is on? What is the guarantee that these guidelines will check fake news, or is it an attempt to prevent genuine reporters from reporting news uncomfortable to establishment?” asked Patel in a tweet.

Senior CPM leader Sitaram Yechury also criticised the Centre’s move, describing it as “duplicitous”.

“We fought for press freedom during the Emergency, then against the Defamation Bill. We condemn this duplicitous move of the Modi government where in the garb of fake news, it will attack all the news it finds uncomfortable. We stand for, and are committed to a free and independent Press,” tweeted Yechury.

Union information and broadcasting minister
Smriti Irani responded to the Congress’s Patel, first saying she was glad to see him awake, then saying the
PCI) and the News Broadcasters Association (
NBA) would decide what is fake and what is genuine.

A statement issued yesterday also said that the PCI and the NBA, the two regulatory bodies for print and television media respectively, will determine whether the news is fake or not, reported ANI.

“Determination is expected to be completed within 15 days by these regulating agencies. Once the complaint is registered for determination of fake news, the correspondent or journalist whoever created or propagated the fake news will, if accredited, have the accreditation suspended till such time the determination regarding the fake news is made by the regulating agencies mentioned above,” the press statement read.

Updated: April 3, 2018 — 7:31 am

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