File photo of Smriti Irani | PTI
Former I&B minister Smriti Irani had set up a nine member committee to regulate online media | PTI
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A separate committee under IT ministry will continue deliberating on issues related online media and digital broadcast.

New Delhi: The information and broadcasting ministry, led by Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore, has decided to scrap the nine-member committee set up by his predecessor Smriti Irani to regulate online media.

However, a separate committee under the ministry of electronics and information technology will deliberate on similar issues related to digital platforms, including digital broadcasting.

A notification to this effect was issued Thursday by the I&B ministry.

The notification says a committee convened by secretary of IT ministry, with I&B secretary and DoT secretary and national cyber security coordinator as members, was constituted earlier this year and has similar terms of reference.

This committee on “investment in critical national infrastructure, digital broadcasting and related issues” had held its first meeting on 10 May.

A senior official from the I&B ministry told ThePrint that the committee will now carry forward discussions with various stakeholders to create the right infrastructure and requirement for IT platforms.

“Hence the nine-member committee set up by I&B ministry will now cease to exist,” the official said, speaking on condition anonymity.

The mandate of the committee, set up by Irani, was to delineate the sphere of online information dissemination, on the lines of the electronic and print media.

It had to set up a regulatory framework for “online media/news portals and online content platforms, including digital broadcasting, which encompasses entertainment/infotainment and news/media aggregators”.

It also had to analyse international practices of such regulations and try to incorporate the methods.

Senior ministry officials said matters related to online news portal and digital broadcasting was never the domain of I&B ministry.

“Internet doesn’t come under the I&B ministry’s domain, unlike print, TV or radio. Any changes or modifications related to online media had to be done by regulating the IT Act, which can be done by the IT ministry,” a senior official said.

“However, there should be some kind of regulation for online media as well,” the official added.

The idea of regulating online media first came up following complaints over certain content broadcast by Internet Protocol Television (IPTVs). These are essentially the delivery of television content on internet, as against satellite, terrestrial or cable TV formats.

There were subsequent discussions within the I&B ministry on regulating such content, but none of the ministries were willing to take responsibility of IPTVs.

“It is tricky, because even if such an online broadcasting medium is blocked, it is easy to make minor changes in the name of the medium and continue broadcasting the same content. Hence the need for some regulation,” an official said.

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