I am honored to be appointed as Minister of Information and Broadcasting of the Alt Sarkar. Thank you, PM Vidyut. At the outset I must state that I and my Ministry are committed to upholding the right to freedom of expression. A free and vibrant press is the cornerstone of democracy. As the fourth pillar of democracy, media has the responsibility of holding the elected government accountable and speaking truth to power. It can only do so if there is no fear of retribution from the government. It doesn’t take only an Emergency to suppress freedom of press and freedom of expression. In the last few years we have seen India slide down in the global press freedom index. It will be our endeavor to correct this slide. The Ministry condemns any attacks on journalists be it physical attacks or online smear campaigns by overenthusiastic supporters of political parties, including our own. To the media, I would say, be the voice of people not of this Ministry or anyone in this government. From our side, we will endeavor to build fair and impartial institutions to carry out the mandate of this Ministry. I would like to introduce The Press Information Bureau which is committed to dissemination of transparent and reliable information. Social media has emerged as a powerful medium of communication. But with social media has come the malaise of misinformation and fake news. We need a robust framework to address this through the state run as well as private media houses. In recent times, we witnessed a spate of lynching and near lynching incidents across the country linked to rumors of child abduction. Not one national media considered debunking the rumors worthy of their prime time shows. This must change. There are instances where media has spread misinformation. This could be an inadvertent error but when this happens, it is only fair that they must be corrected at the same level ie on front page for front page and on prime time for prime time misreporting. Media has to regulate itself in a democracy. But should there be consequences for repeated misinformation? Should a channel be taken off air for repeated offenses? This is a debate the Ministry will take up with all stakeholders. Media has to regulate itself in a democracy. But should there be consequences for repeated misinformation? Should a channel be taken off air for repeated offenses? This is a debate the Ministry will take up with all stakeholders. As a principle the Ministry does not believe in gagging media. It will re-examine the current restrictions and work towards guidelines for reportage in conflict areas keeping the national interest and integrity of the country in mind. Freedom of expression extends to films. The ministry will review the Cinematograph Act to align it with principles of freedom of expression and minimize the executive’s grip over the CBFC. **Thank you**
Acceptance Speech of Samsays as Alt Minister of Information & Broadcasting
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