IT rules 2021: Center refuses to exempt mainstream media from digital standards, says “exception will be discriminatory”

New Delhi: The central government has refused to exempt mainstream media, including print and electronic portals, from the provisions of the IT rules of 2021. It has asked media platforms to comply with the provisions with immediate effect.

The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (I&B) said the rationale for bringing organizations’ websites under the scope of the law is “well-reasoned.”

“Making any exception of the nature proposed will be discriminatory for digital news publishers who do not have a traditional TV / print platform,” the ministry wrote in a clarification to digital news publishers, publishers of content organized online or to OTT platforms, and associations. digital media publishers.

Previously, the National Broadcasters Association (NBA) had written to the I&B Department urging it to “exempt and exclude” traditional television news media and its extensive presence on digital news platforms in the field. application of information technology (Intermediate Directives and Ethics of Digital Media Code) 2021 Rules, affirming that channels are already “sufficiently regulated” by various statutes, laws, directives and codes.

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In response to this, the ministry said that there is no additional regulatory burden for these entities and therefore the request for exemption from the 2021 digital media rules cannot be accepted.

“It recognizes that entities with traditional television and print media are already registered with the government under the Press and Registration Books Act or the 2011 uplink and downlink guidelines. The digital version / digital publishing organizations with traditional information platforms (TV and print) can follow the internal guidelines of self-regulatory bodies. As a result, if organizations wish, they can request the same self-regulatory bodies to serve as level II of the self-regulatory mechanism, after ensuring consistency with the Digital Media Rules, 2021, ”wrote the ministry.

The ministry also clarified that when news and current affairs content from a digital news publisher is transmitted on an OTT platform, that content would not fall under the regulatory responsibility of that platform.

“However, if an OTT platform receives a grievance related to such news and current affairs, it can forward it to the relevant publisher of that content. Accordingly, there should be no apprehension about it or for them. publishers of digital news or for OTT platforms, “he informed.

The ministry noted that TV news channels already had a self-regulatory mechanism to adjudicate on grievances relating to the violation of the program code under the Cable TV Networks Act 1995 and their networks. internal codes or directives.

“The Level II requirement under digital media rules, 2021 is just an extension of an existing institutional practice. In addition, the composition of the self-regulatory body would be entirely decided by the publishers and the government has no role to play, ”says the ministry.

“It is neither stipulated nor intended that the government interferes or hinders the formation of the self-regulatory body, including its composition,” he added.

The ministry also dismissed concerns that the oversight mechanism stipulated in the digital media rules would lead to excessive government control over the functioning of digital news publishers and OTT platforms.

“In addition, Level III is visualized as a residual level, as grievances that are not addressed at the first and second levels would be referred to the IDC. As a result, the apprehension of excessive government oversight at through these mechanisms is moved, “said the ministry.

In the general context, the 2021 digital media rules can be complied with by digital news publishers and OTT platforms without any misunderstanding, he added.

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The ministry further ordered editors to immediately provide the required information in the prescribed format, take urgent steps to appoint a grievance officer, if not, and place all relevant details in the public domain. , to set up self-regulatory bodies by mutual consultation so that grievances are dealt with at the level of the publishers or the self-regulatory bodies themselves.

He further added that more than 500 publishers have already submitted their contact details in the required format.

(With contributions from the agency)

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