Treat Websites of Dailies, Channels Differently from Other Digital Publishers, News Networks Tell Centre

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Days after Centre notified new rules and guidelines for OTT platforms and digital news media, Information and Broadcasting Minister Prakash Javadekar on Thursday said that the guidelines would bring online platforms on par with traditional media like newspapers and new channels. He added 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.

The Centre on February 25 had notified new rules and guidelines for OTT platforms and digital news media, requiring them to make public their details and having a grievance redressal system in place. Javadekar made the statement during an online interaction with the representatives of Digital News Publishers Association (DNPA).

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 which appear exclusively on the digital platform. “This apart, there are several entities which are only on the digital platform. Accordingly, the rules seek to cover the news on digital media so as to bring them on par with the traditional media, the minister added.

Participants, while welcoming the new rules, stated that TV and news print 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.

The meeting had representative from all top media organisations like India Today, Dainik Bhaskar, Hindustan Times, Indian Express, Times of India, ABP, Eenadu, Dainik Jagran and Lokmat.

Earlier this month, the minister held the interaction with representatives of various OTT platforms, including Alt Balaji, Hotstar, Amazon Prime, Netflix, Jio, Zee5, Viacom18, Shemaroo and MxPlayer, the information and broadcasting (I&B) ministry said in a statement. While addressing representatives of the industry, the minister mentioned that in the past, the government had held several rounds of consultation with OTT players, and he stressed on the need for “self-regulation”, it said.

In an office memorandum, the government reiterated that it announced on February 25 the Information Technology (Intermediary guidelines and digital media ethics codes) Rules, 2021, under the Information and Technology Act, 2000. The rules relate to publishers of digital news and current affairs and publishers of online curated content which provide that code of ethics need to be followed by digital news publishers and publishers of OTT content, which includes five age based classifications (‘U’, ‘U/A 7+’, ‘U/A 13+’, ‘U/A 16+’ and ‘A’) in respect of OTT platforms.

The rules stated that a three-level grievance redressal mechanism consisting of the publisher (level-1), self-regulating body constituted by the publishers (level-2) and an oversight mechanism of the government (level-3), will dispose of grievances in a time-bound manner. “Furnishing of information by publishers to the government and periodical disclosure of information regarding grievance redressal in public domain, according to the new digital media rules.



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