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Govt mulls preventing misuse of title registration for print media

MUMBAI: Information and Broadcasting (I&B) Minister Prakash Javadekar said that the government is considering a proposal to make it mandatory for publications to come out with an issue within six months or one year from the date of registration.

The proposal is being mooted to stop the misuse of title registrations. Many applicants register title with Registrar of Newspapers for India (RNI) just for the sake of blocking it, a practice that the ministry wants to curb.

Javadekar said that if an applicant does not come out with an issue within six months to a year after registration, then the ministry will free the title. He stated this while delivering his address at the release function of ‘Press in India 2013–14’ report by RNI.

While noting that there are over 99,500 registered publications in India with over 5,000 new registrations during 2013–14 itself, the minister wondered how many registered publications are actually operational.

Javadekar also stressed that the powers of the Press Council of India (PCI) need to be broadened to make it more effective. The PCI has so far been ineffective in curbing unethical practices in print media as it can only censure guilty publications.

The minister added that the RNI had initiated several measures to mainstream transparency in its functioning inviting overwhelming response from the stakeholders of the print industry.

While the press in India has grown exponentially, the challenge before the press is to remain responsible in their functioning, Javadekar said.

Elaborating further, he said that in its endeavour to make prolific use of technology, RNI had initiated several measures such as online filing of annual statements of the registered publications, quick disposal of title applications and registration cases, creation of email and mobile number database of publishers and owners, automatic SMS intimation, SMS for status of registration, online public query responses, and information and facilitation counters.