Regulators

No exemption for mainstream media from new IT rules, says MIB

Digital news publishers had argued that they were already covered under the existing laws.

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New Delhi: The ministry of information and broadcasting has refused to grant an exemption to the digital news content of mainstream television channels and print media from the ambit of the new IT Rules, 2021 and asked all the digital news publishers and the OTT platforms to comply with the new rules without any misapprehensions.

Asserting that the rationale for bringing the websites of the organisations under the ambit of the law is well-reasoned, the ministry said, making an exception of the nature proposed "will be discriminatory to the digital news publishers who do not have a traditional TV/print platform."

The order dated 10 June provides clarification to digital news publishers, publishers of online curated content or OTT platforms, and associations of digital media publishers who had requested the government for an exemption under the new rules, highlighting that they are already "sufficiently regulated."

"Since the code of ethics requires such digital platforms to follow the existing norms/content regulations, which are in vogue for the traditional print and TV media, there is no additional regulatory burden for such entities," the ministry stated, "Accordingly, the request for exempting the digital news content of such organisations from the ambit of digital media rules 2021 cannot be acceded to."

The ministry also took note of the fact that traditional TV and print media are already registered with the government either under the Press and Registration Books Act or the Uplinking and Downlinking Guidelines of 2011, and added, that they can request the same self-regulatory bodies to serve as the Level II of the self-regulatory mechanism. But, before that, they need to ensure consistency with the Digital Media Rules, 2021, it added.

The Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules 2021 that into effect on 26 May recommend a three-tier mechanism for the regulation of all online media. Under the rules, the digital publishers are required to take urgent steps for appointing a grievance officer, if not done, and place all relevant details in the public domain. "They also need to constitute self-regulatory bodies through mutual consultation so that the grievances are addressed at the level of publishers or the self-regulating bodies themselves," the ministry said. More than 500 publishers have already submitted their details in the requisite format, it added. 

The News Broadcasters Association (NBA) which had earlier sought exemption from the new IT rules, issued a statement on Friday stating that all current and prospective members have fully complied with the requirements of new rules.

 

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