coronavirus: Covid-19 outbreak: I&B Ministry orders states to facilitate media operations

NEW DELHI: The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting has instructed all states and UTs to ensure operational continuity of print and electronic media, following the precautionary lockdown to contain the Covid-19 outbreak, and ensure there is no impediment to printing and distribution of newspapers in any city. The directive came even as experts emphasised on the importance of newspapers in uniting communities during a public health crisis and its role in informing, warning and preparing people to survive and rebuild during an emergency.

In a letter to chief secretaries of all states, the ministry said that the functioning of the media network was essential to create awareness among people, to disseminate important messages and also keep the nation updated on the latest status.

“False and fake news need to be avoided and good practices need to be promoted and these networks play a pivotal role in ensuring the same,” the ministry directive said. A senior official in the ministry said the government has also reached out to heads of its communication units in states and have asked them to apprise the ministry of the challenges media outlets faced. The ministry has been actively taking out advisories for media outlets but it is for the first time that it has instructed states to ensure their smooth operations, the official said.

“Newspapers are the most credible source of information and we want to make sure the populace has access to the right information,” the official said, adding that the ministry was also following up with states on implementing the directive.

The letter urged all state governments and UT administrations to facilitate operational convenience of the services. It also said movement of vehicles carrying media persons, digital satellite news gatherers (DSNG) and others should be facilitated and there should be provisioning for fuel, uninterrupted electric supply and other logistics.

The six-point directive said all operators and their intermediaries should be permitted to remain operational. It has urged state governments to facilitate “smooth supply and distribution chain.”

Media facilities should be permitted to be manned by staff of the service providers. “The movement of the accredited staff of service providers be permitted; the movement of vehicles carrying media persons and others including provisioning of fuel may kindly be facilitated,” the order said.

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