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I&B cancels fake news norms after PM Modi order

I&B cancels fake news norms after PM Modi order

"The media were also anxious about growing incidents of fake news but the Press Council is the right platform to deal with complaints regarding any fake news", president of the Press Club of India Gautam Lahiri said.

Mr Shourie also told NDTV that he did not believe that Prime Minister Narendra Modi was unaware of the controversial press accreditation guidelines issued by Information and Broadcasting Minister Smriti Irani.

The Editors Guild of India strongly condemns the arbitrary manner contemplated by the Union Information and Broadcasting (I&B) Ministry ostensibly to penalise any journalist or media organisation publishing fake news.

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The amended guidelines stipulated that the journalist whoever created and/or propagated the fake news will, if accredited, would have the accreditation suspended till such time the determination regarding the fake news is made by the regulating agencies.

The notification, which did not define the phrase "fake news", said complaints would be referred to the Press Council of India if they pertained to the print media and to the News Broadcasters Association (NBA) if they related to the electronic media.

Fake news is indeed a menace and competition in the news media industry have led the media houses, in the desperation to raise their TRP, to fall back on disseminating wrong and sensational information with fake news.

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The Indian government on Tuesday abruptly withdrew a plan to blacklist journalists for spreading "fake news", after an outcry from reporters who said it would muzzle the press ahead of national elections next year. The journalists community is as concerned as the public regarding the purveying of fake news, which has the very potential of altering and subverting the character of Indian democracy.

The Indian Express newspaper, in a front-page report, described how 13 federal ministers, including Ms Irani, had, over the last two days, tweeted a link to a website which claims to have busted "four major fake news stories". "The Press Council is the right platform to deal with complaints regarding any fake news". It was widely seen as brazen attempt to curb the freedom of the Press. However, it is to be noted that the definition of fake news is not yet clarified by the government.

Trump popularized the term "fake news", using it to dismiss stories that paint him in an unflattering light, but the phrase has gained currency among authoritarian governments in Asia. "Prosecutions are also used to gag journalists who are overly critical of the government, with some prosecutors invoking Section 124a of the penal code, under which "sedition" is punishable by life imprisonment". It applied only to print and broadcast journalists since those working for digital media are not yet eligible for accreditation. If the Prime Minister says that he and the Prime Minister's office was not aware, what the I&B Minister was doing, we will be surprised.

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Audrey Truschke, assistant professor of South Asian history at Rutgers University in the United States, called the sanctions "a shocking and unacceptable attack" on freedom of the press in India.