May 28, 2021 4:03:26 am
The News Broadcasters Association (NBA), one of the largest industry bodies of news channels, on Thursday wrote to the Information and Broadcasting (I&B) Ministry seeking exemption for digital news published by channels from the ambit of IT Rules 2021, stating that it is already “sufficiently regulated” by various statutes, laws, guidelines, codes and regulations.
This comes a day after the ministry asked digital media publishers, publishers of digital news linked to traditional media, and over-the-top (OTT) media service platforms to furnish basic information about themselves, and their self-regulatory mechanisms, within 15 days,
The NBA asked for “exemption and exclusion of traditional television news media and its extended presence on digital news platforms”.
In a letter to Union I&B Minister Prakash Javadekar, the NBA mentioned its “concerns” about the new IT Rules, “and its applicability to the digital medium of the linear television channels of the members of NBA”. The association said it appear to be “ultra vires” of the Information Technology Act, 2000, and shared its concerns for channels being included within the scope of the new rules “as enough safeguards exist to regulate the content of both mediums”.
It said that IT Act “had not contemplated regulation of Digital News Media” but IT Rules, 2021 “seek to inter alia include traditional news media, i.e., electronic television news media having a digital news feed and presence on other digital media platforms, within its purview”.
“In any event, while NBA appreciates the need for regulations, the traditional news media need not be subjected to and/ or covered under the scope of the IT Rules 2021, since it is already sufficiently regulated by various Statutes, Laws, Guidelines and Codes, Regulations, and Judgements,” the NBA stated in the letter.
It stated that guidelines of the industry self-regulatory agency — News Broadcasting Standards Authority — “cover a wide and exhaustive range of issues in respect of the content telecast by the members”.
The NBA highlighted that IT Rules, 2021, “has certain deficiencies” and include terms such as “half-truths”, “good taste”, “decency”. These, it said, “are words that are vague and ambiguous”. It said that the new rules should not “enact excessive regulations for the digital medium in order that a level playing field be maintained with the traditional electronic news media” and should “treat digital media as a ‘Social Media Intermediary’ or ‘Significant Social Media Intermediary’”.
On Wednesday the I&B Ministry had issued a notice asking all digital news publishers and OTT platform to share details about the website, contact information for a person in India, details about the entity that runs it, and the information about the grievance redressal officer in India and the self-regulatory body of which the publisher is a member.