Over 500 digital news publishers, OTT platforms furnish info to MIB under IT rules

The MIB has sent reminders to the publishers who have not submitted the information yet

e4m by Javed Farooqui
Published: Jun 14, 2021 8:50 AM  | 4 min read
Meity - MIB

The ministry of information and broadcasting (MIB) has said that 500+ digital news publishers and over the top (OTT) platforms have furnished requisite information sought by the ministry under Rule 18 of the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021.

The MIB has sent reminders to the publishers who have not yet submitted the information. The ministry had earlier disclosed that 60 publishers and their associations have informed the ministry that they have already initiated the process of formation of self-regulatory bodies under the rule.

In a communication to digital media publishers dated 10th June, the ministry ruled out extending the deadline since the information requested was very basic in nature and 15 days time was sufficient to furnish it. It also said that the entities that are still in the process of finalising the information may furnish the same immediately.

"The Ministry has received requests and representations from various associations, etc. requesting for extension of time for furnishing of information under rule 18 of the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021 because of Covid-19," the MIB said.

"In this regard it may be informed that since the formats were communicated vide Public Notice dated 26th May 2021, more than 500 digital news publishers and OTT platforms have already furnished the requisite information. Further, since the information requested for was very basic to any entity, a time period of 15 days for furnishing the information was considered to be reasonable," it further stated.

The ministry has also issued a clarification on the representations received from various stakeholders on the implementation of the IT rules.

Since the notification of these Rules on 25th February, the ministry had sent communication to over 500 entities in March 2021 regarding the Rules and its compliance besides the interactions held in March 2021 by the I&B minister with digital news publishers and OTT platforms, issue of FAQs and various press releases relating to implementation, and conducting webinars with the various stakeholders.

The ministry has also responded to requests by the traditional media companies (TV and Print) to exclude their digital arms from the applicability of the rules since news organisations have the same or common newsroom for the Print, TV and Digital journalists and the content created by them is already subjected to several uniform sets of guidelines/standards including the Norms of Journalistic Conduct framed by the Press Council of India (PCI), the Programme and Advertising Codes under the Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Act, 1995 and the Rules framed there under.

In its explanation, the ministry said that the existing norms followed by traditional media entities have been extended to the digital news platforms. Therefore, there is no new or additional compliance.

The Code of Ethics laid down under the Digital Media Rules, 2021 provide that the digital news publishers shall adhere to the codes which has three elements -- (a) the Programme Code under the Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Act; (b) the Norms of Journalistic Conduct under the Press Council Act; and (c) that content which is prohibited under any law for the time being in force be not published. The traditional media publishers (TV and Print) are already regulated by these norms.

It further stated that the Press Council Act covers newspapers (including replica e-version of a newspaper), the news portals/websites (.coms, .ins, etc.) are not covered under that Act. Content also differs across the traditional and digital platforms. Accordingly, news portals/websites even of the organisations having traditional newspapers will be covered under the said Rules.

With regard to traditional TV news entities, the ministry pointed out that only the traditional TV channel is covered under the Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Act and Uplinking/Downlinking guidelines while their digital news portals/websites are not covered under that Act/Guidelines.

It also mentioned that a recent ruling by the News Broadcasters Standard Authority (NBSA) that the news exclusive to digital platforms is outside its scope. "Further, the content may be different between the traditional and digital platforms. As a case in point, in a recent decision, the News Broadcasters Standards Authority (NBSA) held that a news which appears only on the website (.com/.in) of an organisation but not its traditional TV platform would be outside the scope of its jurisdiction."

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