Amaravati: Andhra Pradesh Special Advisor K Ramachandra Murthy said that there has been widespread negative propaganda about the newly introduced GO No 938, which sought to take legal action against false, baseless and defamatory news.

Speaking to the media at a press conference in Tadepalli, he said that legal action could be initiated against defamatory news spread with malafide interest in print, electronic, and social media.

The GO was in no way curbing press freedom, he clarified, and that the intention of the GO was only to prohibit false news against the Government and its policies. He also strongly stated that the Government has every right to disallow any form of false and baseless information against it.

Reminding the journalists present there about journalistic ethics and standards, he said that news in any form should be corroborated with proper evidence, which will only then give it credibility. False news without proper credentials would certainly attract the provisions of the GO, he said.

He also brought to light that rejoinders were not being published nowadays and questioned them about ethical journalism.

Ramachandra Murthy also sought to clarify that there was no malafide intention behind the GO and neither was it something new or extraordinary.

"Facts should be written fearlessly and the GO was issued for the benefit of society. Unlike the previous government, we are not targeting any particular media house through this GO," he said.

Reminding them that the Chandrababu government had issued five such GOs in the past and had also named a media house in particular, but this GO was only trying curb false and baseless news.

He also reminded that journalists present there should stick to writing facts and not fiction. He said that the primary duty of a journalist was to source information though credible channels and not through opinions or hearsay.

On October 16, the state Cabinet had given its nod to revive the G.O. (No.938) issued on February 20, 2007. Instances were brought to the notice of the government that certain print, electronic and social media were deliberately trying to tarnish the image of government and government officials by spreading false, baseless and defamatory news with malafide interest.

The government as per the new GO accorded permission to delegate powers to the Secretaries of respective departments to issue rejoinders, file complaints and lodge appropriate cases, if need be, through public prosecutor against defamatory news items published/telecast/posted in print/electronic/social media pertaining to their respective departments after following due process of law.

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