News portals will have to send ownership details to govt: I&B Secretary

The government does not have a complete idea about how many players are there, said the official

News
A form will soon be released that all digital news outlets will have to fill up and submit to the I&B ministry within a month | Representative Photo: iStock

Day after the Centre released a new set of guidelines to govern the social media and OTT platforms, a top government official said digital news portals will have to provide details about their editorial head and ownership to Information and Broadcasting (I&B) ministry.

The government is trying to map out the digital news media landscape as it does not have a complete idea about how many players are there and their identities, like where is their office located or who’s their editor-in-chief, according to I&B Secretary Amit Khare.

Therefore, among several other things, the online news portals will have to furnish details about their ownership, editorial head, address, and designated grievance officer to the I&B ministry, the official said while speaking to The Indian Express.

The report suggests a form will soon be released that all digital news outlets will be needed to fill up and submit to the I&B ministry within a month.

The lack of information about digital media players was also cited by I&B Minister Prakash Javadekar on Thursday, when he tried to justify why no consultation was held with them before released the guidelines for digital content and OTT streaming services.

Regarding news content, the government said on Thursday that “publishers are expected to follow the journalistic conduct of Press Council of India and the Programme Code under the Cable Television Network Act, which are already applicable to print and TV.”

Related news | New rules for social media, OTTs; govt can seek details of message ‘originator’

I&B Secretary Khare further justified the need for a governing mechanism for digital news portals when there’s none for print, saying that the Press Council of India governs the print medium while there’s no such body to look after the digital media.

Regarding criticism over consultation with OTT platforms, he said the I&B minister had met them twice in Delhi and had two rounds of talks in Mumbai and Chennai, and that the OTT platforms had agreed to self-regulation. However, the government hadn’t agreed to their proposal as it did not have any independent appeals body.

The Centre on Thursday announced that a grievance redressal mechanism will be set up for OTT platforms and digital portals. The OTT platforms will also have to self-regulate with a provision for addressing any grievances while upholding journalistic and creative freedom.

Related news | Indian newspapers demand Google pay for news

CATCH US ON: