The Editors Guild of India is perturbed by the unprovoked advisory issued by the Press Council of India on 25 November 2020 to the media, cautioning them against “unregulated circulation” of “foreign contents (sic).”
Through this advisory, it appears that the Council, which swears by self-regulation of media and believes that any government interference would be destructive to press freedom, is lending its weight towards a step that could bring in some form of censorship and punitive actions against those organizations that publish content, which in its view is seen as “not desirable.” The advisory does not specify who will verify the content, on what criterion will it be verified, and most importantly, what does “unregulated circulation” even mean.
Many publications in the country license and reproduce content from foreign agencies, newspapers, and periodicals, which is a prerogative of the editor, and who is in any case responsible for all the content published in their publication. A reiteration by the Council at this juncture of this established practice, in an ominous-sounding advisory, has disturbing implications.
Editors Guild urges the PCI, which should be committed to press freedom, to withdraw this advisory immediately.
Seema Mustafa, president, Editors Guild of India
Sanjay Kapoor, general secretary, Editors Guild of India
Anant Nath, treasurer, Editors Guild of India