Amending the journalists’ accreditation guidelines on Monday, the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (I&B) headed by Union Minister Smriti Irani, has stated that if any journalist is found to have created any fake news or propaganda, the journalist’s accreditation will either be cancelled permanently or will be suspended for an indefinite time period. The following amendment was announced through a press release. The amendment by the I&B Ministry also said that News Broadcasters Association (NBA) along with Press Council of India (PCI) will determine if the news is fake or not.

The statement issued by I&B Ministry also defined the punishment and left the nature of complaint and definition of ‘fake news’ open-ended. Smiriti Irani also highlighted that both the bodies — NBA and PCI — were not regulated by the government. The statement said that once the complaint is registered to determine if the news is fake or not, the journalist’s accreditation who circulated the alleged propaganda or the fake news will be suspended till the time the above-mentioned agencies investigate the allegations.

The statement gives 15 days for the agencies to complete the investigations on the complaints filed. The statement said that whenever such a complaint will be filed, it will be referred to Press Council of India (PCI) and NBA if it pertains to print and electronic media respectively. It is the representatives of these two agencies who will determine the nature of news being fake or not. The I&B Ministry also said, “the Accreditation Committee of the Press Information Bureau (PIB) that consists the representatives from both the PCI and NBA shall be reached out for validating any accreditation request of any news media agency.”

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The statement from the ministry said that if the violation is proved then the accreditation of the journalist will be suspended for 6 months for a first violation, one year for second and will be permanently cancelled in case of third violation. As per reports, the statement also said, “The regulatory agencies will examine whether the ‘Norms of Journalistic Conduct’ and ‘Code of Ethics and Broadcasting Standards’ prescribed by the PCI and NBA respectively are adhered to by the journalists”.

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