Prakash Javadekar discusses intermediary rules with DNPA representatives

While welcoming the rules, the representatives pointed out that they should be treated differently from news publishers who only existed in the digital space

e4m by exchange4media Staff
Published: Mar 12, 2021 7:52 AM  | 4 min read
Prakash Javadekar

Information & Broadcasting (I&B) minister Prakash Javadekar Thursday held an interaction through video conference with representatives of Digital News Publishers Association (DNPA) in the backdrop of the IT (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021.

The meeting was attended by the representatives of India Today, Dainik Bhaskar, Hindustan Times, Indian Express, Times of India, ABP, Eenadu, Dainik Jagran, and Lokmat.

Addressing the participants, Javadekar informed that the new rules placed certain responsibilities on digital news publishers. These include adherence to the Code of Ethics such as the norms of journalistic conduct framed by the Press Council of India (PIC) and the Programme Code under the Cable Television Network Act.

The rules have provided for a three-tier grievance redressal mechanism of which the first and second-tier would be of the digital news publishers and self-regulatory bodies constituted by them.

The minister also mentioned that the digital news publishers would also be required to furnish some basic information to the Ministry in a simple form which is being finalised and periodically they would be required to place in the public domain the grievance redressal undertaken by them.

He stated that print media and TV channels have digital versions whose content is almost the same as that on the traditional platforms. However, there are contents that appear exclusively on the digital platform. This apart there are several entities that are only on the digital platform.  Accordingly, the rules seek to cover the news on Digital Media so as to bring them at par with the traditional media.

The participants while welcoming the new rules stated that TV and newsprint media have been following the laid down norms of the Cable Television Network Act and the Press Council Act for a very long time.  Further for publishing the digital versions, the publishers do follow the existing norms of the traditional platforms. They felt that they should be treated differently than those news publishers who are only on the digital platform.

Javadekar thanked the participants for expressing their views and stated that the government will take note of the same and continue with this consultative process for the overall growth of the media industry.

On 4th March, Javadekar had held an interaction with representatives of various over the top (OTT) platforms including from ALTBalaji, Disney+ Hotstar, Amazon Prime Video, Netflix, Jio TV, ZEE5, Voot, Shemaroo, and MX Player. During the meeting, Javadekar had sought to dispel rumours by clarifying that no member in the self-regulating body will be appointed by the government. The minister wanted to allay the fears of OTT platforms that the government will interfere with digital content.

The government had recently notified the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules 2021. Notified under section 87 of the Information Technology Act, the Code of Ethics for online news, OTT platforms, and digital media empower the MIB to implement Part-III of the Rules.

As per the guidelines, the digital news platforms will have to follow the journalistic conduct of the PCI and the Programme Code under the Cable Television Network Act. The rules also mandate a three-tier grievance redressal mechanism for news publishers, OTT Platforms, and digital media.

The publisher will have to appoint a Grievance Redressal Officer based in India who shall be responsible for the redressal of grievances received by it. The officer shall take a decision on every grievance it receives within 15 days.

There may be one or more self-regulatory bodies of publishers. Such a body shall be headed by a retired judge of the Supreme Court, a High Court, or independent eminent person and have not more than six members. Such a body will have to register with the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (MIB).

This body will oversee the adherence by the publisher to the Code of Ethics and address grievances that have not been resolved by the publisher within 15 days. The MIB will formulate an oversight mechanism. It shall publish a charter for self-regulating bodies, including Codes of Practices. It shall establish an Inter-Departmental Committee for hearing grievances.

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