I&B Ministry sets up committee to regulate online content
Currently, there are no guidelines for regulation of websites and online content.Updated: Apr 06, 2018, 17:35 IST
The information and broadcasting ministry (MIB) has formed a committee with representatives from various ministries to draft regulations for digital media companies.
According to an official aware of the development who asked not to be identified, the committee has been mandated to “frame and suggest a regulatory framework for online media, news portals, digital broadcasting and entertainment and infotainment (information and entertainment) sites and for media aggregators.”
The committee, which was announced a day after the Prime Minister ordered the reversal of the MIB’s order on regulation of fake news, is headed by the secretary of the ministry and will include officials from the ministries of home, law, telecom, the department of industrial policy and promotion, representatives of the Press Council of India, News Broadcasters Association and Indian Broadcasters Federation, and the head of government outreach portal MyGov.
Underlining the need for the regulation of online content, MIB minister Smriti Irani said last month that the government is considering a new regulatory framework for online content, including on social media and websites. Fake news is a pressing problem in India, like it is elsewhere in the world, and much of it is in the online domain.
The committee set up by MIB will define the online space which needs regulation. The Press Council of India, a statutory body, addresses grievances related to newspaper reports and the News Broadcasters Association, a self-regulatory industry body, addresses similar issues in the TV space.
Currently, there are no guidelines for regulation of websites and online content.
Irani said last month that it is important to ensure that readers and viewers do not get affected by vested views in news, broadcasting and advertorial content.
The committee will also look at international best practices in the area of online regulation which can be adopted, the official said.
MIB officials said there have been several complaints about websites running fake or unconfirmed news, and that in some cases the websites vanish soon after putting out news that is incorrect.
Last month, Karnataka police arrested the founder of news website Postcard News, for hate speech after he allegedly passed off the photograph of a monk hurt in an accident as that of a monk hurt after attacks by Muslims.
The committee will also examine norms on foreign direct investment in news websites; for which there are no rules or regulations currently. For news media in the print space, this is currently 26%; for TV news media,it is 49%.
According to the official cited above, the MIB has received applications for foreign investment in digital media platforms, which in turn can create jobs.
“Discussion on the issue is already underway with the DIPP, but now the committee will also take a call on it,” the official said.