I&B min issues draft bill to bring digital media under regulatory framework

MUMBAI: The ministry of information & broadcasting (MIB) is planning to bring digital news under the purview of the Press and Registration of Books (PRB) Act 1867. The ministry has prepared a draft Bill titled ‘Registration of Press and Periodicals (RPP)’ Bill, 2019” to replace the existing PRB Act, 1867.

Section 18 of the draft says, “The publishers of news on Digital Media shall register themselves with the Registrar of Newspapers of India in such manner and giving such particulars as may be prescribed”.

The draft defines the news on digital media as the news in digitised format that can be transmitted over the internet, computer or mobile networks and includes text, audio, video, and graphics.

As a part of the pre-legislative consultative process, the ministry has sought suggestions/ comments/ inputs from the stakeholders within a month.

Among other things, the bill proposes to remove the existing provisions relating to registration of Books and matters connected thereto.

The bill proposes to do away with the existing procedure of furnishing of declaration by publishers/ printers before the District Magistrate and its subsequent authentication.

The process of title and registration of periodicals including newspapers is proposed to be effected centrally by the Press Registrar General as a simultaneous process.

The bill enables the Central Government and the State Government to frame appropriate rules/ regulations to regulate the criteria/ conditions for issuing Government advertisements in newspapers, accreditation of newspapers and such other facilities for newspapers.

The bill proposes to have a simple system of registration of e-papers. The bill also proposes to do away with the earlier provision under the PRB Act, 1867 of prosecution of publishers.

In August, the union government had put a cap of 26% on foreign direct investment (FDI) in uploading/streaming of news and current affairs through digital media to bring it at par with the print media. Prior to that, there was no FDI limit on digital news platforms.

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