Union Govt Aims To Regulate Digital News Media via Amended Law: Reports
Moneylife Digital Team 15 July 2022
The Union ministry of information and broadcasting (MIB) has started a process to amend the Registration of Press and Periodicals Bill to include 'news on digital media through any electronic device' in its ambit. According to the proposed amendment, digital news publishers must apply for registration and will be required to do so within 90 days of the law coming into effect, say reports.
In a report, the Economic Times (ET) says, "Reviving its 2019 plan; the Union government is finally readying to place before the Cabinet the proposed bill for a new registration regime for newspapers that will also include India's growing digital news media industry which has so far stayed out of the governmental registration framework." 
"The proposed legislation - the Registration of Press and Periodicals Bill - will replace the colonial era Press and Registration of Books Act, 1867, that currently regulates printing presses and newspapers printed in India," the newspaper says.
So far, digital media has never been under any law or regulation in India. 
"A new law for the registration of media will, for the first time in India, include digital media, which has never been part of any government regulation. Digital news sites could face action for 'violations', which includes cancelled registration or penalty if the bill is cleared," says a report from NDTV
Digital publishers will need to register with the press registrar general, who will have powers to act against various publications for violations and who can suspend or cancel registrations and impose penalties. An appellate board is planned with the chairperson of the Press Council of India as its chief, the report says, quoting officials.
The draft Registration of Press and Periodicals Bill by the Union government in 2019 defined 'news on digital media' as 'news in a digitised format that can be transmitted over the internet, computer or mobile networks and includes text, audio, video and graphics'.
However, after facing criticism for an attempt to control digital news media, the government has kept the Bill on the back-burner. "The Union government has now finalised all ministerial and other stakeholder consultations, and the bill will not go to the Union Cabinet for approval, after which it will be presented in the Parliament," the report from ET says. 
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