The Registrar of Newspapers for India (RNI), which receives hundreds of applications daily for registration of new newspapers and periodicals, is running out of titles.
It is writing to district magistrates to verify the existence of newspapers and periodicals that have failed to submit their annual statements for the past five years to identify those publications that exist only on paper.
The exercise will also help the RNI identify publications that receive government advertisements even though they have little or no circulation. “The RNI has drawn up a list of defaulters, which is being sent to the district magistrates to verify. If these publications do not exist, then the titles can be freed up and given to those who apply for registration,” an official said.
Filling of annual statements is also required for empanelling newspapers and publications for government advertisements released by the directorate of advertising and visual publicity (DAVP), the rule does not apply to publications in states.
“Identifying newspaper and publications that exist only on paper will also help corroborate if these are beneficiaries of state government advertisements. Besides, it helps us obtain the ownership details of publications,” the official said. Registration of newspapers and publications is mandatory under the Press and Registration of Books Act, 1867.
Although it does not have the mandate to refuse titles, RNI can do so if the names suggested are similar to that of an existing newspaper or publication, are provocative or claim to represent a constitutional office, or are in the names of prominent people. Citing an example of some proposed titles that had to be turned down, a source in the ministry said some applicants had suggested names like ‘Tanatan Times’ and ‘Dhamaka’.