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How Media sources are regulated by Government in India? Its Historical background & current changes

Every normal being today is using digital media sources to check news, socialise with friends and connect with thousands of people through the social media applications. Few decades back TV became the prime source for the masses to gather information with the emergence of satellites and antennas in India and it used to be the News Papers and Magazines prior to that. So the source of information has changed from time to time as per the ease of availability and interest of the people. The source of information has brought miles of changes in the world and the way humans operate because this has equally impacted other types of businesses as well. So how these information sources were regulated earlier and how the government keeps a check on them.

Every government across the world or the power holders of the place wants to control the media sources through legit as well as illegitimate ways but regulating the media through legit means is very important. Biased and wrong information is more dangerous than being not known of the event at all.

The Regulation

Recently, the Government decided to introduce a bill aimed at revising the Press and Registration of Book Act 1867. This act is currently used to regulate the press, regulate book publishing, and keep a check on the 

freedom of speech and expression.

Basically, the printer of every newspaper had to deliver two copies of each issue of such newspaper free of expense to the Government and one copy of each issue to Press Registrar. Under the act, the Central Government may appoint a Registrar of newspapers for India. The Press Registrar shall maintain in the prescribed manner a register of newspapers.

Every book or paper printed shall have printed legibly on it the name of the printer and the place of printing, name of the publisher, and the place of publication.

History of the Act

The legacy begins with the Censorship of Press Act, 1799 which was imposed by Wellesley to gag the press ahead of a French invasion of India. 

Later this was retracted in 1818 by Hastings. Then the acting governor-general John Adams enacted the Licensing Regulations (ordinance), 1823. Governor General Metcalfe abolished the ordinance to replace it with the Press Act of 1835.

Then, the Licensing Act of 1857 brought newspapers, printed matter, and all books under the purview of the law. 

The current Press and Registration of Books (PRB) Act 1867 was aimed at curbing what the British Government thought was the role of the press in the “revolt of 1857”.

So basically India was using a british legislation for the press in India which was used by British to curb the dissent and anti british voices during the pre independence era.

Current Act and its features

The objective of the Act is to bring digital media under the scanner of the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting and overcoming the colonial overhang of the previous law.

Once the Bill is passed the Digital News media

Publication will have to register with the Press Registrar General within 90 days and the government Entity will have the power to act against digital Publications for violations and can suspend or cancel a registration and impose penalties. It lays down a “Simple System” of registration of E-papers and aims to remove certain existing provisions concerning the registration of books and connected matters.

The Bill enables the Central government and the State government to frame appropriate rules/ regulations to regulate the criteria/ conditions for issuing Government advertisements in newspapers, accreditation of newspapers, and such other facilities for newspapers.

Also, there shall be an Appellate Board to be called the Press and Registration Appellate Board consisting of the Chairman, Press Council of India and one member to be nominated by the Press Council of India, from amongst its members. After fulfilling the conditions laid down in the proposed act. The board can make a decision that will be binding and final.

Lets see how this goes and when this comes into force.

stay tuned for more.



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