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MIB declines request to exclude traditional media from IT Rules

The rationale for including digital news portals or websites of organizations having traditional news platforms under the ambit of the Digital Media Rules, 2021, is well reasoned, the ministry has said. (Photo: Mint)Premium
The rationale for including digital news portals or websites of organizations having traditional news platforms under the ambit of the Digital Media Rules, 2021, is well reasoned, the ministry has said. (Photo: Mint)

  • The rationale for including the digital news portals or websites of the organizations having traditional news platforms under the ambit of the Digital Media Rules, 2021, is well reasoned

NEW DELHI: The ministry of information and broadcasting has refused to exclude traditional print and television media from the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021, that came into force this February.

In a letter addressed to digital news publishers, publishers of online curated content and association of digital media publishers, the ministry has asked them to comply with the Rules ‘without any misapprehensions,’ thereby appointing grievance officers immediately, furnishing information and constituting self-regulatory bodies, if not done so yet. The letter was issued on 10 June.

Emphasising that traditional media publishers are already governed by the Programme Code under the Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Act, the Norms of Journalistic Conduct under the Press Council Act besides being forbidden from putting out any content prohibited under any law, MIB said extending these norms to the digital arms of the organizations does not require additional compliance.

It added that the Press Council Act covers newspapers but not their websites and content also differs across platforms. The same holds true for TV news channels that are governed by the Cable Television Networks Regulation Act, 1995 [Cable TV Act], Cable Television Networks Rules, 1994 [Cable TV Rules], Uplinking and Downlinking Guidelines 2011, but their web portals often host different content.

“The rationale for including the digital news portals or websites of the organizations having traditional news platforms under the ambit of the Digital Media Rules, 2021, is well reasoned," the ministry said, adding that making any exception will be discriminatory to the digital news publishers who do not own traditional platforms.

However, recognising that traditional outlets are registered with the government under the Press and Registration of Books Act or the Uplinking and Downlinking Guidelines, the information sought from them under the IT Rules is bare minimum. These organizations can also request their existing self-regulatory bodies to serve as the level-II of the grievance redressal mechanism.

Clarifying that news and current affairs content would be outside the regulatory responsibility of the OTT platform on which it is hosted, the ministry has said that any grievance relating to the same should be transferred to the concerned publisher.

With regard to concerns around increasing compliance pressures, the MIB statement said the Rules have been framed under the Information Technology Act, 2000 and publishers can decide whether a complaint falls under the Code of Ethics they are governed by. “It is neither stipulated nor intended for the government to either interfere or obstruct the formation of the self-regulatory body including its composition," the statement said, adding that apprehension of excessive governmental control through these mechanisms is misplaced.

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