Centre proposes six months’ suspension for a first violation, one year for a second violation and permanent cancellation for a third violation.
New Delhi: The Centre is preparing to crack down on journalists publishing or propagating fake news. It plans to suspend and, for subsequent violations, even cancel the government press accreditation given to them if they publish/broadcast fake news.
An official statement from the information and broadcasting ministry Monday said the government had amended the ‘Guidelines for Accreditation of Journalists’, taking into account the rising instances of fake news across media, especially in newspapers and on TV channels.
The move, however, does not cover websites and social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and WhatsApp which are often accused of publishing or spreading fake news.
The new procedure
As per the amended guidelines, any complaint received about fake news in the print media would be referred to the Press Council of India (PCI), while those pertaining to the electronic media would be sent to the News Broadcasters’ Association (NBA). These bodies will then determine if the item is indeed fake within 15 days.
In the meantime, the journalist who wrote or propagated the news item will have his or her accreditation suspended.
In case the news item is confirmed to be fake, the accreditation of the journalist concerned will be suspended for a period of six months for a first violation, and for one year in case of a second violation. For a third violation, the journalist will lose his or her accreditation permanently.
What govt accreditation means to journalists
Press Information Bureau (PIB) accreditation entitles journalists to several benefits, including access to government buildings and official functions.
The PIB has an accreditation committee that meets at regular intervals. The statement said if a news agency wants to put in accreditation requests for its journalists, it can reach out to this committee, which features representatives from the PCI and the NBA.
The regulatory agencies, while examining requests seeking accreditation, will also check if ‘Norms of Journalistic Conduct’ and ‘Code of Ethics and Broadcasting Standards’ prescribed by the PCI and NBA respectively, are adhered to by the journalists as part of their regular functioning, the note said, adding that it would be obligatory for journalists to abide by these guidelines.
Incidentally, on Sunday, I&B minister Smriti Irani and several of her cabinet and party colleagues tweeted an article from a website which claimed to have busted four major fake news stories in a week.