Centre working on new bill to bring digital news industry under legal framework

In a big move, the Narendra Modi government is preparing a new bill for the registration of media, which will include digital media, which has so far stayed out of the government’s registration framework, sources told Republic TV. 

The new bill will propose the regularisation and registration of digital news publishers, bringing them on par with newspapers. 

The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology has begun amending the Registration of Press and Periodicals Bill, sources informed. It will replace the Press and Registration of Books Act, 1867.

If the bill gets passed in Parliament, the digital news portals will need to get registered with Press Registrar General. This will help the government to keep a watch on murky funding, fake news and misinformation.

New bill to simplify book publishing

The new bill proposes to simplify book publishing by removing the existing provisions relating to the registration of books and matters connected thereto. It also plans to do away with the existing procedure of furnishing of declaration by publishers/printers before the District Magistrate and its subsequent authentication. 

The bill will also enable the Centre and the state governments to frame appropriate regulations to regulate the criteria for issuing Government advertisements in newspapers, accreditation of newspapers and such other facilities for newspapers. It also proposed a simple system of registration of e-papers.

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.

In 2019, the Centre put out a draft bill that 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”. The draft had received backlash from the Opposition and others, as a result of which it was not moved forward.

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