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Single law to overseas all Media

Legal Correspondent: Jimli Sarma

August 17, 2021: To maintain a level playing field, the Union Government is developing a super law for all traditional and digital media organisations.

According to government insiders acquainted with the topic, the plan is to create an umbrella law that will encompass print and electronic media, digital media, cinema and even so-called over-the-top or OTT platforms like Netflix and Hotstar.

The new law, according to one offical, will incorporate parts from the Cable Television Network Act as well as the new digital media rules. “The space is evolving ”, enhanced this person “There is a need for platform wise self-regulation. But at the time, the technology is converging. Earlier, different platforms were using different technologies, but now increasingly we are seeing them move towards a similar approach.

The procedure, however, is still in the early stage of debate; Amit Khare, the secretary of the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (I&B), did not respond to HT's request for comment.

The new regulation may have come about as a result of the realisation that, while print media has the Press Council, internet news media does not.

The I&B ministry has already amended the Cable Television Network Act and proposed draught amendments to the Cinematography Act to ensure that they do not conflict with the government‘s new social media and intermediary guidelines and digital med and intermediary guidelines and digital media code of ethics, which were notified in February under the Information Technology Act to bring hitherto unregulated digital platforms under a three-tier regulatory framework.

In the case of OTT and digital news media platforms, the new IT guidelines require platforms to appoint a grievance redressal mechanism with an inter-ministerial committee its apex and give the I&B ministry takedown powers over contents circulated online. Members of industry organisations such as the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry, and the Press Council would be included in the government ‘s oversight process. Several media companies have challenged the rules in court.

According to a spokesperson for the I&B ministry, roughly900 channels are already part of a self-regulatory system, and the revisions simply build on that.

NS Nappinai, a Supreme Court Lawyer and co-founder of Cybersaathi, believes that an unified legal framework would be beneficial “but the government should also be cognisant of existing frameworks and see if a complete overhaul is needed”.


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