Describing fake news as more dangerous than paid news, Union Information and Broadcasting Minister Prakash Javadekar said on Thursday that the government and media need to fight together.
During a conversation with journalists of the agency at the PTI headquarters, the Union Minister said that the government will not take any step which reduces media freedom. At the same time, he said that like print, electronic and movies, regulation is also necessary for web streaming sites (OTT).
OTT forums include news portals, Web streaming sites such as Hotstar, Netflix and Amazon Prime Video, which are broadcast directly through the Internet.
Javadekar said that many mainstream media institutions have told the government that there is no equal level of competition with OTT as there is no regulation.
He said, “I have asked for advice on how to deal with it because there is a continuous cinema coming on OTT which has good, bad and very bad too.” So, how to deal with it, who should monitor, who should regulate it? There is no certification body for OTT forums. The same is true for the online news portal.”
Also, the Union Minister said that the government has not taken any decision in this regard.
He said that the print media accountability is the Press Council of India, the accountability of news channels, the News Broadcasters Association (NBA), the Advertising Standards Council of India for advertisements and the censor board for films.
The Information and Broadcasting Minister said, “But, for OTT there is no such regulation.”
News portals in India have grown rapidly and the number of subscribers of many of them is increasing multiple folds.
Javadekar also expressed concern about fake news. He said, “These are more dangerous than paid news.”
The minister said, “The fake news has to stop and it is our job.” It is not just the work of the government, it is the business of all. Those who are really in the news world will have to fight it. “
He said that many news channels are trying to deal with it with the help of programs like ‘Viral Sach’. He said that the print media should also keep one such column for fake and correct news.
“We have seen that in the last few months more than 20-30 people have died due to fake news and rumors of child theft on social media,” the Union Minister said.
Javadekar said that the government is trying to tackle the problem of fake news related to Kashmir by running programs like ‘Kashmir Ka Sach’ on Doordarshan news.
He said, “If there is any fake news related to the government then we can react quickly / take action, but the government is also concerned about law and order. We are also asking the state governments (to deal with fake news). “
He said that various district magistrates have put right facts before the public to deal with fake news.
Regarding paid news, the minister said that it is immoral and the media should stop it.
Javadekar said, “The media has to advise us (the government), so that we can work together and punish the small faction of the media involved in fake news and it can be over.”
On the newspapers’ demand for withdrawal of 10 percent customs duty on import of news paper, Javadekar said that the issue has been discussed with all the parties and it will be resolved soon.
When questioned about the concern expressed by some factions about media freedom, Javadekar said that freedom of media has been attacked only once and that too during the Emergency between 1975-1977. Then censorship was implemented.
The Union Minister said, “We were angry. The whole country fought for it. Our fight also brought freedom of the press to its core. We were jailed for 16 months for freedom of press, organizational and expression. “