New Delhi: Representatives of multiple print and TV news organisations — which also have a presence in online media in the form of e-papers and websites — met Information and Broadcasting Minister Prakash Javadekar Thursday, demanding they be kept out of the ambit of the new rules for digital media, which were recently notified by the Narendra Modi government.
Representatives from India Today, Dainik Bhaskar, Hindustan Times, Indian Express, Times of India, ABP, Eenadu, Dainik Jagran, Lokmat, among others, under the banner of the Digital News Publishers Association (DNPA), were present in the interaction, which was held through a video conference.
All these media houses are primarily print and television organisations, with a digital presence. None of them is an exclusively digital news organisation.
With most newspapers also having their e-paper or online versions, and television channels running their stories on their websites too, they were brought under the new IT (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021, released last month.
After the interaction, the government in a statement said the TV and print media organisations welcomed the new rules. However, the organisations said they have been following the existing norms of the Cable Television Network Act and the Press Council Act for a very long time, the statement added.
“Further for publishing the digital versions, the publishers do follow the existing norms of the traditional platforms,” the statement said. “They felt that they should be treated differently than those news publishers, who are only on the digital platform,” the statement added.
Javadekar said in the statement that while print media and TV channels have digital versions whose content is almost the same as that on the traditional platforms, there is content which appears exclusively on the digital platforms.
Noted suggestions: Javadekar
Javadekar said there are several entities that are only on the digital platforms.
“Accordingly, the rules seek to cover the news on digital media so as to bring them at par with the traditional media,” he said.
The minister told the publications that digital news publishers would also be required to furnish some basic information to the ministry in a simple form, which is being finalised and that they would have to periodically place in public domain the grievance redressal measures undertaken by them.
In a tweet, the minister said he has taken note of the suggestions offered by the organisations.
In a follow up to meeting with OTT platforms, held an interaction with Digital News Publishers Association today. Discussed the new rules for digital media. They welcomed the new rules and offered few suggestions which I have noted.@MIB_India @PIB_India
— Prakash Javadekar (@PrakashJavdekar) March 11, 2021
The DNPA, meanwhile, thanked the minister for the “constructive meet”.
“DNPA made suggestions that preserve freedom of the press and emphasised that all its members are bound by — and follow — the regulations of the Press Council of India and/or NBSA,” it tweeted.
DNPA thanks the Minister for today’s constructive meet. DNPA made suggestions that preserve freedom of the press and emphasized that all its members are bound by – and follow – the regulations of Press Council of India and/or NBSA.
— Digital News Publishers Association (@publishers_news) March 11, 2021
The Modi government had notified the rules last month, which mandated online media as well as OTT platforms to follow the existing content codes meant for television and print media, and to set up a grievance redressal structure to check any violation.
The rules, however, ran into trouble with the Supreme Court, which observed that the guidelines were ineffective in ensuring no “objectionable content” is screened online.
News portals, too, challenged the rules, stating they were beyond the “object and scope” of the Information Technology Act, 2000.
(Edited by Debalina Dey)