Representatives from publications like India Today, Dainik Bhaskar, and Hindustan Times were present at the meet.
Following the meeting with OTT platforms, Union Minister of Information and Broadcasting Prakash Javadekar on Thursday, 11 March, held a virtual interaction with the Digital News Publishers Association (DNPA) to discuss the government’s new IT rules.
Representatives from news publications like India Today, Dainik Bhaskar, Hindustan Times, The Indian Express, Times of India, ABP, Eenadu, Dainik Jagran among others were present at the meet.
According to a government press release, the participants welcomed the new rules, but stated that TV and news print media have been adhering to the stated norms of the Cable Television Network Act and the Press Council Act for a very long time.
Further, they informed that for publishing the digital versions, they followed 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.
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In the meeting, the Union minister laid down the new responsibilities placed on publishers of digital news, saying that they will have to follow the Code of Ethics, such as the norms of journalistic conduct framed by the Press Council of India and the Programme Code under the Cable Television Network Act.
Further, the rules also provide for a strict three-tier grievance redressal mechanism to regulate the media. The first and second tiers of this mechanism will be of the digital news publishers and the self-regulatory bodies constituted by them.
The press release also stated that digital news publishers will also be required to furnish some basic information to the Ministry in a simple form that is being finalised and they would be periodically required to place in public domain the grievance redressal undertaken by them.
Noting that there was certain content that appeared exclusively on digital platforms, Javadekar stated that the rules sought to cover news on digital media to bring them on a par with the traditional media, according to the press release.
In a tweet, Javadekar said that he had “discussed the new rules for digital media. They (media organisations) welcomed the new rules and offered few suggestions, which I have noted.”
Constructive Meet: DNPA
The Digital News Publishers Association thanked the Union minister for the ‘constructive meeting’ and tweeted that it had made suggestions to preserve the freedom of press.
Welcoming the new move, DNPA requested the ministry to treat ‘digital only’ publications differently, since traditional publications have been following the regulations of Press Council of India and Cable Television Network Act for a long time.
The development comes weeks after the largest body of digital news publishers in the country, DIGIPUB News Foundation India, penned a letter to the the Union minister, calling the new rules unfair and “in some places, appear to go against the fundamental principle of news and its role in a democracy”.
They had appealed to repeal the Rules, or at least put them on hold, until meaningful consultations were undertaken with all the stakeholders involved.