The controversy over the reprinting of International Herald Tribune (IHT) in the country may drive the government to relax its rules, according to sources close to the development. The government is likely to review the print sector norms, and lift the blanket ban on publishing Indian editions of foreign publications, they said. Senior officials of the information and broadcasting ministry refused to comment on the issue.
Besides IHT, there are a few other foreign newspaper groups which are interested in being published from India, it is learnt.
In the new regime, if there’s a review of the 1955 Cabinet decision, the government may consider granting case-to-case approvals to foreign publications wanting to print from India, rather than imposing a blanket ban. The 1955 Cabinet resolution barred foreign publications from printing Indian editions. In the year 2000, however, the government relaxed the norms for specialty, scientific and technical journals, whereby publication of Indian editions with 74 per cent foreign investment was allowed. But, in the case of technical journals also, there has to be some Indian content.
Now, however, there are indications that the government may decide to relax the rulebook for foreign publications dealing with news and current affairs also, on a case-to-case basis.
Currently, the law ministry, in consultation with attorney general Milon Banerjee, is examining the possibility of amending the Press and Registration Act, so that there’s a “legal sanctity” to the Cabinet resolution of 1955 and the print syndication guidelines.
Meanwhile, the I&B ministry has written to International Herald Tribune, reiterating that the Indian edition of IHT must be stopped as it’s in “violation of the policy guidelines”.
The Indian edition of IHT is being published from Hyderabad-based Deccan Chronicle Press.
The publisher, Midram Publications, secured a no-objection certificate from IHT and its parent company New York Times.
Also, the Registrar of Newspapers of India (RNI) granted the ‘International Herald Tribune’ title to Midram Publications in April.