Central Media Accreditation Guidelines, 2022

News: Recently, the Central government has released the Central Media Accreditation Guidelines-2022. Applications for accreditation are vetted by a Central Press Accreditation Committee headed by the DG, PIB. At present, there are 2,457 PIB-accredited journalists in the country.

Provisions:

  • If a journalist acts in a manner prejudicial to the country’s security, sovereignty and integrity, friendly relations with foreign States, public order or is charged with a serious cognisable offence.
  • If actions are prejudicial to decency, or morality, or in relation to contempt of courtdefamation or incitement to an offence. Accredited media persons have been prohibited from using the words “Accredited to the government of India” on public/social media profile, visiting cards, letter heads or on any other form or any published work.
  • Accreditation is only available for journalists living in the Delhi NCR region. There are multiple categories.
  • A journalist needs to have a minimum five years’ professional experience as a full-time working journalist or a cameraperson in a news organisation, or a minimum of 15 years as a freelancer to become eligible.
  • Veteran journalists, with over 30 years of experience, and who are older than 65 years of age, too are eligible.
  • newspaper or a periodical needs to have a minimum daily circulation of 10,000, and news agencies must have at least 100 subscribers. Similar rules apply for foreign news organisations and foreign journalists.
  • Journalists working with digital news platforms are also eligible, provided the website has a minimum of 10 lakh unique visitors per month.
  • No accreditation will be granted to freelance journalists working for foreign news media organisations.
  • The Government shall constitute a Committee called the Central Media Accreditation Committee.
  • The Committee will be chaired by the Principal Director General, Press Information Bureau (PIB)and composed of up to 25 members nominated by the government to discharge the functions laid down under these guidelines.
  • The CMAC would function for a period of two years from the date of its first meeting and shall meet once in a quarter or more frequently, if necessary.

Concerns:

  • The guidelines leave it to the discretion of government nominated officials to assess what is defamatory or prejudicial to the sovereignty or integrity of India while deciding on whether a journalist’s accreditation should be suspended or withdrawn.
  • One of the core responsibilities of a journalist is to expose wrongdoing, whether by public officials, politicians, big businessmen, corporate groups, or other people in power. This could result, at times, in such powers trying to intimidate journalists or to block information from coming out.
  • Journalists often report on issues and policy decisions that the government may not like.
  • Any investigative story on sensitive issues could be held to be in violation of any of these provisions.

Benefits:

  • In certain events where VVIPs or dignitaries such as the President, the Vice President or the Prime Minister are present, only accredited journalists are allowed to report from the premises.
  • Second, accreditation ensures that a journalist is able to protect the identity of his or her sources.
  • An accredited journalist does not have to disclose who he or she intends to meet when entering offices of union ministries, as the accreditation card is “valid for entry into buildings under MHA (Ministry of Home Affairs) security zone”.
  • Accreditation brings certain benefits for the journalist and his or her family, like being included in the Central Government Health Scheme, and some concessions on railway tickets.