I&B Ministry new curbs: Journos to lose accreditation if they act against national security

The new guidelines state that the journalists acting in a manner prejudicial to the country's ‘security, sovereignty and integrity’, ‘public order, decency or morality’ will lose their government accreditation.
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Journalists acting in a manner prejudicial to the country's "security, sovereignty and integrity", as well as "public order, decency or morality" will lose their government accreditation, the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting has stated in its new guidelines. The Central Media Accreditation Guidelines - 2022, announced on Monday, February 7, also lays down guidelines for the accreditation of journalists working for online news platforms. News aggregators are not being considered for accreditation, the government said.

According to the new policy, ‘accreditation is liable to be withdrawn or suspended if a journalist acts in a manner prejudicial to the country's security, sovereignty and integrity, friendly relations with foreign States, public order, decency or morality, or in any relation to contempt of court, defamation or incitement to an offense’.

Accreditation can also be suspended if a journalist or the media organization they represent is found to have furnished false or forged information or documents. In such an event, the journalist or the media organization shall be debarred from accreditation for up to a maximum of five years but not less than two years, as may be decided by the Central Media Accreditation Committee (CMAC), the guidelines said.

The ministry is forming a committee called the Central Media Accreditation Committee (CMAC) chaired by the principal director general, Press Information Bureau (PIB), and comprising 25 members nominated by the government. The committee will function for two years from the date of its first meeting and will be responsible for suspending the accreditation of journalists.

A sub-committee of the CMAC – chaired by the principal Director General of Press Information Bureau – consisting of five members nominated by the CMAC will take decisions on accreditation cases.

In the new policy for online news platforms, digital news publishers applying for accreditation should have furnished requisite information to the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting under Rule 18 of the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code), Rules, 2021 (Furnishing of information), and should not have violated the rules.

The policy states that the online platform must have existed for over a year, and needs to report the website's average monthly unique visitor count of the last six months duly certified by the website's CAG-approved or empanelled auditors. The website should have a registered office in India and the correspondents should be based in Delhi or National Capital Region, it said. In case the information submitted by the applicant is found to be false, they shall be debarred from applying for accreditation for the next three years.

It is to be noted that Malayalam television channel MediaOne TV has temporarily gone off air after the Kerala High Court, on Tuesday, February 8, upheld the decision by the Union government to revoke the channel’s license. The court dismissed the plea filed by Madhyamam Broadcasting Limited, which operates the channel.The Union government had barred the telecast of the channel on January 31, after not renewing its license based on an order by the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting (I&B). The ministry had cited ‘security concerns’ as the reason behind the order.

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