I&B plans law to register news websites with RNI
The Union Information and Broadcasting ministry is planning to bring in a legislation that will make it mandatory for news websites to get themselves registered with the Registrar of Newspapers of India (RNI).
According to a draft of the “Registration of Press and Periodicals (RPP)” Bill 2019 — put up by the I&B ministry on its website — “publishers of news on digital media shall register themselves with the Registrar of Newspapers of India in such manner and giving such particulars as may be prescribed”.
The bill does not specify if it will require websites of newspapers registered with RNI to be registered separately. It defines “news on digital media” in a broad manner as any news content that “can be transmitted over the internet, computer or mobile networks and includes text, audio, video and graphics”.
Among other provisions, the act mandates that there will be a Press Registrar General.
The Press Registrar General would empowered to obtain annual statements from a printer and a periodical to verify the circulation figures and also to revise, revoke or suspend registration of a periodical.
The draft bill also provides for an Appellate Board.
It would be called the Press and Registration Appellate Board, which will have the chairman of the Press Council of India as one of its members.There will be another member who would be nominated by the Press Council of India from among its members.
Any person aggrieved by an order of the Press Registrar General with regard to refusal of registration or cancellation or suspension of registration can approach the Appellate Board, the draft said.
One of the sections of the proposed legislation pertains specifically to the digital media.
This section says that the “publishers of news on Digital Media shall register themselves with the Registrar of Newspapers of India in such manner and giving such particulars as may be prescribed”.
However, it was not immediately clear which of the provisions related to print media, if at all, would also apply on the digital publishers once they register. Another significant aspect of the bill is that it proposes to do away with the earlier provision under the Press and Registration of Books (PRB) Act, 1867, of prosecution of publishers.
The bill proposes to have a simple system of registration of e-papers.
According to the ministry, the new bill proposes to remove the existing provisions relating to the registration of books and matters related to it.
The bill also proposes to do away with the existing procedure of furnishing of declaration by publishers and printers before the district magistrate and its subsequent authentication, the ministry said.