The Editors Guild of India has urged the Press Council of India to withdraw its "ominous-sounding" advisory cautioning against "unregulated circulation of the foreign content", saying it has disturbing implications. In a statement, the guild said it is perturbed by the "unprovoked" advisory issued by the Press Council of India on November 25 to the media.
"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 organisations that publish content, which in its view is seen as 'not desirable'," the guild said. 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, the statement issued on Saturday said.
The guild noted that 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," the guild said.
It urged the PCI to withdraw this advisory immediately. The Press Council of India, in its advisory, said it has considered references received from various quarters by the government about the responsibility of Indian newspapers in publishing foreign contents.
The council had said it is of the view that unregulated circulation of the foreign content is not desirable. Hence, it advised the media to publish foreign extracts in Indian newspapers with due verification as the reporter, publisher and editor of such newspaper shall be responsible for the contents irrespective of the source from which it is received.