The Central Government recently released the Central Media Accreditation Guidelines-2022. Accreditation applications are vetted by a Central Press Accreditation Committee chaired by the DG, PIB. There are currently 2,457 PIB-accredited journalists in the country.
Provisions for Withdrawal/Suspension of Accreditation
Acts in a manner which is prejudicial to the sovereignty and integrity of India, the security of state, friendly relations with foreign states, public order, decency or morality or in relation to contempt of court, defamation or incitement to an offence.
Accreditation can also be withdrawn or suspended, if their actions are prejudicial to decency, morality, defamation or incitement to an offence or in relation to contempt of court.
Accredited media persons will also be prohibited from using words “Accredited to the government of India” on social media profile, letter heads, visiting cards, or in any other form or any published work.
In case of digital news publishers, general terms of accreditation would apply. Furthermore, news aggregators will not be considered.
Digital news publishers who are applying for accreditation should have furnished requisite information to “Ministry of Information & Broadcasting” in accordance with Rule 18 of the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code), Rules, 2021.
Provisions for Granting Accreditation:
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.
A newspaper or a periodical need 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.
Procedure for grant of accreditation
The procedure to apply for accreditation shall be laid down by the principal DG, PIB and the applicant will be required to fill an online form and submit such documents as may be specified from time to time.
PIB, may, before grant of accreditation or its renewal, call for any additional information and documents considered necessary for the purpose of ensuring credibility and genuiness of the claims made in the application.
The central media accreditation committee
The government shall constitute the Central Media Accreditation Committee.
The Committee will be led by the Principal Director General of the Press Information Bureau (PIB) and comprised of up to 25 government-nominated members to carry out the tasks laid down in these guidelines.
The CMAC would function for 2 years from the date of its first meeting and would meet once in a quarter or more frequently if necessary.
What are the Constitutional Provisions related to Freedom of Press?
The Indian Constitution guarantees freedom of speech and expression under Article 19, which deals with Protection of certain rights regarding freedom of speech, etc.
Freedom of the press is not expressly protected by the Indian legal system but it is impliedly protected under article 19(1) (a) of the constitution.
However, Freedom of the press is also not absolute.
A law could impose only those restrictions on the exercise of this right, it faces certain restrictions under article 19(2), which is as follows:
Sovereignty and integrity of India, Security of the State, Friendly relations with foreign States, Public order, decency or morality or in Contempt of court, Defamation, Incitement to an offence.