A day after Editors’ Guild thanked Prime Minister Narendra Modi for intervening and striking down the stringent guidelines on fake news issued by the Information and Broadcasting Ministry, the Indian Newspaper Society (INS), an apex body of the print media industry, on Wednesday welcomed PM Modi’s decision.
After widespread criticism by journalists and opposition (parties), who realised this was an attempt to curb and control the freedom of Press, the Prime Minister finally withdrew these “draconian guidelines” on fake news, the INS said in a release.
The INS also expressed anguish over the recent unreasonable and biased decision of the PCI Chairman, while selecting the names of persons to be nominated as members for a fresh term.
It expressed its strong disapproval of the “strategic manipulation” of the entire process of nominating names, which it said “displays a lack of understanding of the PCI Act and RNI Act, a reference to the Press Council of India and the Registrar of Newspapers in India.
“It is imperative that mature responsibility and neutrality is now displayed, even at this late stage, to restore the credibility, impartiality and prestige of the Press Council of India,” the INS said.
The I&B order issued on Monday night warned that journalists would be denied access to the government even on mere accusations of spreading fake news and could lose their accreditation for a limited period or permanently.
The Ministry led by Smriti Irani had said that the government has amended the Guidelines for Accreditation of Journalists in view of “increasing instances of fake news in various mediums including print and electronic media”.
It had said that complaints 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 electronic media for determination of the news item being fake or not.
(With agency inputs)