Last month, the DMK government in Tamil Nadu quietly issued an order, setting up a fact check unit (FCU) in Chennai, which will comprise 80 staff members, including a Mission Director, who shall be paid a salary of Rs. 3 lakhs.
This shall involve a recurring annual expenditure of ₹3.55 crore per annum, and the initial cost setup shall involve an expenditure of ₹1.42 crore. Essentially, in the first year, the government is going to spend around ₹5 crore to check facts.
The mandate for the FCU is to check the authenticity of information and news related to the T.N. government. They will check news related to the policies, schemes, initiatives and guidelines of the government. Any news, which the FCU feels is contrary to what the government says, can be taken up for action.
The unit is empowered to take suo moto cognisance of news across media platforms including print media, television channels, digital media, social media and much more. They will also handle complaints from third parties related to news in the public domain.
Strangely, the FCU will not function under the control of the Department of Information and Public Relations. It will come under the authority of the Department of Special Programme Implementation, which is headed by Minister Udhayanidhi Stalin.
Is the intent behind such units to counter fake news, or police the media?
Script and presentation: D. Suresh Kumar
Production: Shibu Narayan
Videography: S. Shiva Raj