New Delhi, Feb 11 (PTI) Various journalists’ bodies on Friday wrote to Information and Broadcasting (I&B) Minister Anurag Thakur raising objections to the new guidelines issued recently for the accreditation of media persons by his ministry’s arm Press Information Bureau (PIB).
In their letter to the minister, the journalists’ bodies said the new accreditation guidelines were discussed at a meeting organised under the aegis of the Press Club of India and it was noted that the I&B Ministry has taken “unilateral and unfair” decision to “drastically” alter the accreditation guidelines in violation of the existing guidelines of the Press Council of India.
Among those who signed the letter included the presidents of the Press Club of India, Indian Women’s Press Corps, Press Association, Delhi Union of Journalists and Working News Camaramen’s Association.
“Various journalists’ organizations, associations and unions under the aegis of the Press Club of India held a meeting today and discussed the new PIB accreditation guidelines,” the letter to the minister stated.
“The meeting, after a detail discussions, strongly opposed the unilateral and unfair decision of the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting in drastically altering the guidelines and forming a lopsided Central Media Accreditation Committee (CMAC),” it read.
“Both the guidelines and the CMAC violate the existing guidelines framed by the apex media body Press Council of India,” it added.
According to Central Media Accreditation Guidelines-2022, announced on February 7, accreditation is liable to be withdrawn or suspended if a journalist “acts in a manner prejudicial to the country’s security, sovereignty and integrity, friendly relations with foreign states, public order, decency or morality, or in any relation to contempt of court, defamation or incitement to an offence”.
Accreditation can also be suspended if a journalist or the media organisation the scribe represents is found to have furnished false or forged information or documents.
“In such an event, the journalist/media organisation shall be debarred from accreditation for up to a maximum of five years but not less than two years, as may be decided by the CMAC (Central Media Accreditation Committee),” the guidelines stipulate.
Besides, accredited media persons have been prohibited from using the words “Accredited to the government of India” on public/social media profile, visiting cards, letter heads or on any other form or any published work.
The new guidelines also provides for setting of a Central Media Accreditation Committee (CMAC), to be chaired by the principal director general of the PIB. The committee will comprise up to 25 members, nominated by the government.
The committee will function for two years from the date of its first meeting and will be responsible for suspending the accreditation of journalists.
A sub-committee of the CMAC consisting of five members nominated by the CMAC will take decisions on accreditation cases. The sub-committee will also be chaired by the principal DG, PIB.
“The new guidelines are against the spirit of the Constitution of India and against the freedom of speech and expression as well. This is an attempt to curb the voice of the media and control it,” Press Club of India president Umakant Lakhera said.
He demanded that the new accreditation guidelines be withdrawn immediately and fresh guidelines be formulated in consultation with “the stakeholders including journalists’ bodies and the Press Council of India.
“An action plan to organise protests against the new guidelines is being prepared in consultation with various journalists bodies and it will be announced shortly. Our action plan will be shared with the journalists’ bodies in the states as well,” he added. PTI PK PK AQS AQS
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