From criticism to praise, NBA members react to Smriti Irani's order
NBA board members we spoke to shared mixed reactions over the move by the Information & Broadcasting Minister
The move to curb fake news by Information & Broadcasting Minister Smriti Irani surprised many till the Prime Minister intervened. The PMO in a letter withdrew the Press Release titled “Guidelines for Accreditation of Journalists amended to regulate Fake News” dated 2.4.2018 issued by Ministry of Information and Broadcasting. Rajat Sharma, President, News Broadcasters Association (NBA) gave out a statement welcoming the decision of PMO to withdraw the release sent by MIB earlier this week. NBA also welcomed the decision to let industry bodies i.e. NBA and the Press Council of India (PCI) decide all issues relating to “Fake News”.
By and large this move by MIB has been termed as an attempt to muzzle the freedom of press.
While the government has decided to let media bodies like Press Council of India (PCI) and News Broadcasters Association (NBA) decide all issues related to Fake News, however, despite a carefully guarded statement, the NBA board members we spoke to shared mixed reactions over the move.
According to MV Shreyams Kumar, Joint Managing Director - Mathrubhumi Printing & Publishing Co. Ltd and Vice President, NBA, fake news is bad for media but it should be regulated by the media owners and media bodies. He said, “It is more of a self regulation. Media does not intentionally do fake news. It could be wrong news but not fake news. In a large democracy like India, the government should not try to control the media on one pretext or the other."
Commenting on the I&B Minister's order, Kumar added, “The order was a premature approach; any kind of regulation on content is not welcome. It is an infringement on the freedom of press. Why are they not regulating social media which is full of fake news? They don’t seem to have any control over it. Moreover, apart from journalists there are also common people who spread fake news. Responsible media companies will never do any fake news. I feel personally that this whole exercise was to control the media. Especially during elections, which are nearing. As I said, there should be no regulation on content as far as dealing with fake news is concerned. We can go to the courts and get redressal. Judiciary is doing enough to take care of such cases.”
While Kumar came down heavily on the move, I. Venkat, Director - Eenadu Television Pvt. Ltd, who is also a Board Member of NBA, did not see the move as a crackdown on press. Sharing his views on the issue, he stated, “Smriti Irani has made it clear that she will work with the industry, especially after the PM’s statement. She has also said that her ministry is not going to do anything at this juncture. What Smirti Irani has done is not a premature step at all.”
Lauding the minister, Venkat added, “It is a great idea by Smriti Irani to deal with fake news, and it is not comparable to what Indira Gandhi did when she curbed the media completely.”
“This is NOT about combating fake news, this is about targeting journalists on mere allegations & letting real culprits get away scot free," tweeted Sonia Singh, Editorial Director – NDTV and Board Member of NBA.
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