PM Modi orders withdrawal of fake news guidelines after media outrage
The release on the guidelines on fake news were on Tuesday withdrawn hours after its announcement as Prime Minister Narendra Modi intervened and directed withdrawal of the press release on the news amid outrage by journalists.
The prime minister's intervention came as journalists opposed the guidelines and the Opposition questioned the government's move.
In a press release issued on Monday, the Information and Broadcasting (I&B) Ministry announced a set of guidelines on fake news, stating that the accreditation of a journalist can be suspended or cancelled permanently on the charge of fake news.
In the statement, the ministry had said that the decision to amend the guidelines was taken after "increasing instances of fake news in various mediums including print and electronic media".
However, stepping in to control the situation, the prime minister directed the ministry to withdraw the guidelines. He then said that the subject should be left to the Press Council of India.
The guidelines by the I&B Ministry was seen as an attempt to control media in an election year. Senior journalist Shekhar Gupta termed the move “breathtaking assault” on media and compared it with former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi’s proposed anti-defamation bill.
The Opposition Congress too questioned the government’s intent behind the move and asked whether the move was “an attempt to prevent genuine reporters from reporting news uncomfortable to establishment.”
After the media outrage, I&B Minister Smriti Irani tweeted, "@MIB_India is more than happy to engage with journalist body or organisation/s wanting to give suggestions so that together we can fight the menace of ‘fake news’ & uphold ethical journalism."