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Government does not subscribe to World Press Freedom Index rankings

  • Published
    28th Mar, 2023

Union Information and Broadcasting Minister has mentioned in a written response to Rajya Sabha that government does not subscribe to World Press Freedom Index rankings due to lack of ‘adoption of a methodology which is questionable and non-transparent’.

About the statement:
  • The government does not subscribe to the rankings of the World Press Freedom Index, nor does it agree to the conclusions drawn by ‘Reporters without Borders’.

The World Press Freedom Index is published by a foreign non-government organisation, called Reporters without Borders

  • The government does not subscribe to views of the index and country rankings and does not agree to the conclusions drawn by this organisation.
  • There are various reasons for disagreement to the index, including;
  • very low sample size,
  • little or no weightage to fundamentals of democracy,
  • adoption of a methodology which is questionable and
  • Non-transparency

India and Freedom of Press:

  • The G7 countries and partner countries (including India) adopted a ‘Resilient Democracies Statement’ at the June 2022 G7 Summit which inter alia affirmed their commitment to strengthening the resilience of democracies and working towards equitable, inclusive and sustainable solutions to global challenges.
  • An advisory specifically on the safety of journalists was issued to states and Union Territories in October 2017, requesting them to strictly enforce the law to ensure the safety and security of media persons.

Laws related to Press:

  • Freedom of expression is guaranteed under the Constitution of India and if the right is absolute or there is any restriction on the use or its misuse in electronic or print media.
  • Freedom of speech and expression is a constitutionally guaranteed fundamental right to citizens under Article 19(1) with restrictions as stated in Article 19(2).
  • Article 19(2), the state is empowered to impose reasonable restrictions on the operation of the right in the interest of sovereignty and integrity of India, the security of the state, friendly relations with foreign states, public order, decency or morality or in relation to contempt of court, defamation or incitement to an offence.

Agencies involved:

  • The Press Council of India (PCI), a statutory autonomous body, has been set up under the Press Council Act, 1978, mainly to preserve the freedom of the press and improve the standards of newspapers and news agencies in the country.

Other provisions:

  • For television, all channels are required to adhere to the Programme Code under the Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Act, 1995.
  • For digital news publishers, the government has notified the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021 under the IT Act, 2000, which provides for a Code of Ethics for adherence by digital news publishers.
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