As per a draft of the “Registration of Press and Periodicals (RPP)” Bill 2019 — put up by the I&B ministry on its website — “publishers of news on digital media shall register themselves with the Registrar of Newspapers of India in such manner and giving such particulars as may be prescribed”.
However, bill does not specify if it will require websites of newspapers registered with RNI to be registered separately. It defines “news on digital media” in a broad manner as any news content that “can be transmitted over the internet, computer or mobile networks and includes text, audio, video and graphics”.
The act mandates that there will be a Press Registrar General. The Press Registrar General would empowered to obtain annual statements from a printer and a periodical to verify the circulation figures and also to revise, revoke or suspend registration of a periodical.
The draft bill also provides for an Appellate Board. It would be called the Press and Registration Appellate Board, which will have the chairman of the Press Council of India as one of its members. There will be another member who would be nominated by the Press Council of India from among its members.
As per draft, any person aggrieved by an order of the Press Registrar General with regard to refusal of registration or cancellation or suspension of registration can approach the Appellate Board.
One of the sections of the proposed legislation pertains specifically to the digital media. This section says that the “publishers of news on Digital Media shall register themselves with the Registrar of Newspapers of India in such manner and giving such particulars as may be prescribed”.
The bill proposes to have a simple system of registration of e-papers. According to the ministry, the new bill proposes to remove the existing provisions relating to the registration of books and matters related to it.
In an important move that will give print media a breather, the bill also proposes to do away with the existing procedure of furnishing of declaration by publishers and printers before the district magistrate and its subsequent authentication.