Congress slams Goa Speaker over new guidelines for media

Panaji: The Congress on Wednesday accused Goa Speaker Pramod Sawant of trying to put restrictions on freedom of expression by issuing new guidelines for entry of journalists in the assembly precincts, which has been described as harsh both by the media fraternity here as well as other opposition parties.

“Has the Speaker become another Modi, who does not believe in constitutional provisions like freedom of expression? The Congress will launch an agitation to ensure that these draconian guidelines which will bar most journalists from covering the assembly proceedings are withdrawn,” state Congress general secretary Girish Chodankar told a press conference here.

As per the new guidelines, correspondents of only those online portals with a daily page view count of 10,000 and an annual revenue generation of Rs 10 lakh would be allowed access to the state assembly to cover its proceedings.

It also mandates that correspondents of only those newspapers with a circulation of 15,000 copies and above would be allowed accreditation, with special exceptions to be made at the discretion of the Speaker’s office in case a newspaper’s circulation is below 15,000, while debarring representatives of news weeklies and monthlies from the accreditation process.

The Goa Union of Journalists, which represents over 200 working journalists in the state, has already condemned the guidelines and has requested the Speaker’s office to withdraw the same, with immediate effect.

The guidelines were uploaded on the official website of the Goa Legislative Assembly last week.

Speaker Pramod Sawant has been unavailable for comment ever since the controversy over the guidelines started on Tuesday.