New Delhi: The Modi government is all set to replace the 155-year-old law that governs the functioning of newspapers and printing presses in India with a modern legislation that will also be applicable to the booming digital news media sector.
Government sources said that consultations on finalising the Registration of Press and Periodicals Bill — first mooted in 2019 — are almost complete and the Bill is likely to be placed before cabinet soon for approval.
It is then expected to be tabled in the monsoon session of Parliament that is scheduled to begin Monday.
Sources in the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting told ThePrint that discussions on the Bill have been under way since January.
The Bill aims to ensure the creation and maintaining of a credible directory of active publications that have valid income tax returns.
“Several news organisations that are registered according to the present legislation are not publishing and distributing their work widely,” said a source familiar with the issue.
“Although they have a printing press, most of them are taking advantage of these positions which could be given to others who are more active. Separate eligibility continues to remain in existence for digital journalists and that could be availed,” the source added.
A report in The Economic Times said the Bill “proposes to bring digital news portals on par with newspapers and will ask them to register the entity with the Press Registrar General, the equivalent of the prevalent Registrar of Newspapers in India”.
A draft of this Bill was first made public in 2019 and it had drawn criticism as it was seen as an attempt by the Modi government to regulate digital media, which is not subject to any registration at present.
The Bill will also remove the existing provisions relating to registration of books and matters connected thereto, freeing up the book publishing industry considerably, The Economic Times report said.