The information and broadcasting ministry will soon issue guidelines to all state governments and Central ministries on providing information to the media during incidents like the Mumbai terror attacks, even as media organisations are opposed to such a mechanism.
The guidelines will also advise government departments on pictures and videos to be provided to media in cases where access cannot be given as it may jeopardise the operation of the security forces.
The guidelines will cover incidents of terror, communal riots, hijacking, hostage situations and incidents that are perceived to be a threat to national security.
Expected to be circulated to all government departments by end-January, the guidelines will also specify the role of the Press Information Bureau during crisis situations, a ministry official, who did not wish to be quoted, said.
“Although we are not defining national emergencies, the guidelines will cover all incidents that can have national ramifications,” the official said, adding that the ministry would make it mandatory for television channels to carry government-provided feed during such emergencies. A cabinet note in this regard has already been circulated.
According to the guidelines, each government department will identify an official, who will act as a nodal point for collecting and disseminating information. During the Mumbai attacks, it was found that the entire police force was dealing with the situation and there was no one to respond to media queries.
The guidelines, being prepared in consultation with the Cabinet Secretariat and the Ministry of External Affairs, will also prescribe the dos and don’ts for providing information.
“One of our key concerns is that contrary views should not emerge in the media,” the official said.