The government has refused to exempt the digital news content of mainstream television channels and print media from the ambit of the IT Rules, 2021 and asked them to take "urgent steps" to comply with the provisions of the digital media rules immediately. The rationale for bringing the websites of the organisations under the ambit of the law is "well reasoned", the information and broadcasting ministry said in a clarification to digital news publishers, publishers of online curated content or OTT platforms and associations of digital media publishers.

What

  1. Making any exception of the nature proposed will be discriminatory to the digital news publishers who do not have a traditional TV/print platform, the ministry said.
  2. The National Broadcasters Association (NBA) had recently written to the ministry, urging it to "exempt and exclude" the traditional television news media and its expanded presence on digital news platforms from the ambit of the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules 2021, saying they are already "sufficiently regulated" by various statutes, laws, guidelines, codes and regulations.
  3. However, the ministry said, it does recognise that entities having traditional TV and print media are already registered with the government either under the Press and Registration Books Act or the Uplinking and Downlinking Guidelines of 2011.
  4. The digital version/digital publication of the organisations having traditional news platforms (TV and print) may be following internal guidelines of the self-regulatory bodies.
  5. The ministry clarified that when any news and current affairs content of a digital news publisher is transmitted on an OTT platform, such content would be outside the regulatory responsibility of that platform.
  6. However, if any OTT platform receives a grievance related to such news and current affairs, it may transfer the same to the publisher concerned of that content.
  7. Accordingly, there should not be any apprehension on this count either to the digital news publishers or to the OTT platforms.
  8. The ministry noted that the television news channels already have a self-regulatory mechanism in place to adjudicate grievances relating to the violation of the programme code under the Cable Television Network Act, 1995 and their internal codes or guidelines.

Flashback

  1. The IT Rules 2021 aim to empower ordinary users of social media platforms and OTT platforms with a mechanism for redressal and timely resolution of their grievances with the help of a Grievance Redressal Officer (GRO) who should be a resident in India.
  2. Special emphasis has been given on the protection of women and children from sexual offences, fake news and other misuse of social media.
  3. Identification of the “first originator of the information” would be required in case of an offence related to sovereignty and integrity of India. 
  4. A Chief Compliance Officer, a resident of India, also needs to be appointed and that person shall be responsible for ensuring compliance with the Act and Rules.
  5. A monthly compliance report mentioning the details of complaints received and action taken on the complaints would be necessary.