Kerala issues media guidelines, opposition fumes



The Kerala government on Friday issued fresh guidelines for the media which the opposition said amounted to gagging the independent press.

According to the guidelines, the media will have to depend on the Information and Public Relations Department (IPRD) for news from the Secretariat, government offices and even railway stations and airports if the Chief Minister or cabinet ministers wish to speak to the media.

With this, the hitherto customary mode of getting 'sound bytes' for the television media from the Chief Minister and his cabinet colleagues will be a thing of the past.

The guidelines were issued by Subrata Biswas, the Additional Chief Secretary (Home).

Leader of Opposition Ramesh Chennithala told IANS that such guidelines had been unheard of in Kerala.

"Freedom of the press is a vital cog in a democracy. The guidelines have come because Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan does not wish the people to know the truth," he said, and asked the government to withdraw "the draconian rules".

State BJP President P.S. Sreedharan Pillai termed this "a dangerous trend".

The new order says that only accredited press correspondents can enter the Secretariat while other journalists will have to wait till the Secretariat opens for the general public in the evening.

The government has said that all news related to the government, including press meets and announcements by various departments, have to be done only through the IPRD and for that the journalists should use an app.

Senior journalist Roy Mathew said Vijayan was trying to usher in a system that existed in the former Communist countries.

But Vijayan's office said there were no curbs on the media and the guidelines were only meant to streamline things in the wake of security issues. - IANS