Highlights

  • Centre plans to include digital media in Registration of Press and Periodicals Bill
  • To hold digital media accountable for "violations"
  • The new bill, if passed, will require digital media to register with Press Registrar General

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Centre to regulate digital media, proposes changes in 2019 press bill

The new bill, if passed, will require digital media to register with the Press Registrar General within 90 days of the law coming into effect which will have powers to suspend or cancel their registrations and impose penalties. 

The Centre is reportedly planning to include digital media in the Registration of Press and Periodicals Bill to regulate and hold it accountable for “violations”. The bill with these changes is likely to be presented before the Cabinet soon.

The new bill, if passed, will require digital media to register with the Press Registrar General (PRG) within 90 days of the law coming into effect.
PRG is the equivalent of the Registrar of Newspapers for India (RNI) which is a statutory body of the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting that regulates and monitors the printing and publication of newspapers in the country.
This body will have powers to act against digital media for “violations”, suspend or cancel their registrations, and impose penalties on them.

The Information and Broadcasting ministry, which in this case will be the "administrative ministry", will reportedly amend the bill to include "news on digital media through any electronic device" to effectively bring digital media under government regulation.

The government is also planning to have a board of appeal to be headed by the Chairperson of the Press Council of India, as per media reports.

In 2019, the Centre put out a draft of the same bill that defined news on digital media as “news in digitised format that can be transmitted over the internet, computer or mobile networks and includes text, audio, video and graphics".

The draft had sparked a huge controversy with critics calling it out as an attempt to ‘control’ digital news media. The widespread reproval ultimately led to the bill being put on the back-burner.

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