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Draft Registration of Press & Periodicals Bill That'll Regulate Digital News Media May Get Cabinet Nod Soon

By: News Desk

News18.com

Last Updated: July 15, 2022, 22:05 IST

New Delhi, India

The government brought in a fresh set of digital media rules last year. All digital news websites and online curated content providers had to send in their details to the I&B ministry for record. (Representational image)

The government brought in a fresh set of digital media rules last year. All digital news websites and online curated content providers had to send in their details to the I&B ministry for record. (Representational image)

The draft Registration of Press and Periodicals (RPP) Bill was framed in 2019 to replace the Press and Registration of Books (PRB) Act, 1867, which regulates only printing presses and newspapers

A draft bill to regulate news websites, newspapers, and printing presses may soon be approved by the Union Cabinet.

The draft Registration of Press and Periodicals (RPP) Bill was framed in 2019 to replace the Press and Registration of Books (PRB) Act, 1867, which regulates only printing presses and newspapers. The new draft bill also seeks to regulate digital news.

In 2019, the Information and Broadcasting (I&B) ministry invited comments on the draft bill from stakeholders and it was placed before the Union Cabinet. After minor revisions to it, the draft bill now is once again before the Union Cabinet for approval, after which it will be brought before the Parliament.

The first draft of the bill was made in 2017 but did not see any progress for two years.

The draft bill seeks to simplify the registration process of a newspaper. It also proposes to do away with the earlier provision under the PRB Act, 1867, of prosecution of publishers.

It proposes that a press registrar general should be appointed by the central government. Digital news websites will have to register with this official.

The government brought in a fresh set of digital media rules last year. All digital news websites and online curated content providers had to send in their details to the I&B ministry for record.

As per the bill, the press registrar general will be the central authority responsible for the process of registration of titles for newspapers and periodicals.

The draft bill stated that the press registrar general can suspend or cancel the Certificate of Registration if the periodical is being published against the provisions of the Act or rules or if its registration was secured on false representation or if the periodical mentioned in the Certificate of Registration bears a title, which is the same as that of any other periodical.

The press registrar general can also cancel the Certificate of Registration of a periodical if it has stopped publishing for over 12 months and if the publisher has given false information in his application for registration or in the annual statement or if it has not furnished the annual statement within 12 months from the end of a financial year, or has been convicted by a court for an offence involving a terrorist act or unlawful activities.

The actions can be taken based on inputs received from the government or on the recommendations of the Press Council of India.

The draft bill stated that whoever owns, prints, publishes, or edits any periodical without adhering to its provisions would be punishable with a fine of up to Rs 50,000. Its registration can also be cancelled.

The bill also stated that fine and penal action will be invited if a printing press is started without furnishing an intimation or by furnishing false information.

It has also sought to remove the existing provision of registration of books from its ambit and provides a separate system for the registration of e-papers.

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first published:July 15, 2022, 22:05 IST
last updated:July 15, 2022, 22:05 IST