The Information and Broadcasting Ministry has formed a committee to devise rules to modulate news portals and media websites, an official communique from the ministry said. This comes just a day after the Centre recalled its directive regarding fake news after criticism.
According to the Ministry’s letter dated April 4, the 10-member committee includes secretaries of the ministries of information and broadcasting, electronics and information technology as well as home. It will also have secretaries from the department of legal affairs and department of industrial policy and promotion as members.
The committee will also have representatives of the Press Council of India (PCI), News Broadcasters Association (NBA) and Indian Broadcasters Federation (IBF).
The order said the content on private television channels are regulated by the Programme and Advertisement Codes, while PCI has its norms to regulate the print media. The order added that there were no norms or guidelines to regulate the online media websites and news portals. “Therefore, it has been decided to constitute a committee to frame and suggest a regulatory framework for online media/news portals including digital broadcasting and entertainment/infotainment sites and news/media aggregators,” it added.
Terms of the reference (TOR) or scope of the work include to “delineate the sphere of online information dissemination which needs to be brought under regulation, on the lines applicable to print and electronic media”, according to the order.
The committee will also analyse the international scenario on the existing of regulatory mechanism with a view to incorporate the best practices.
The committee will recommend “appropriate policy formulation” for online media/ news portal and online content platforms, keeping in mind various norms, including extent of FDI allowed, programmes and advertising code for TV channels and those of the PCI, the order said.
On April 2, the ministry had announced norms to contain fake news which said that if publication or telecast of fake news was confirmed, accreditation of the journalist would be suspended for six months in case of first violation and for one year in case of a second violation.
In case of a third violation, his or her accreditation would be cancelled permanently, the ministry had said. However, the guidelines were withdrawn by the ministry on the direction of Prime Minister Narendra Modi after the government drew flak from media bodies and and opposition which dubbed these norms an attempt to “muzzle” free press.
(With PTI inputs)