IMC to look into online media regulation as MIB scraps Irani constituted panel

The ministry of information and broadcasting (MIB) has confirmed that the committee formed by former I&B minister Smriti Irani to look into the issue of bringing online media/news portals under the regulatory framework has been scrapped.

Instead, the issue will now be looked into by the Inter-Ministerial Committee (IMC) on “Investment in Critical National Infrastructure, Digital Broadcasting and related issues” formed by the union government on 10 May.

The committee formed by the I&B ministry was scrapped since the terms of references (TOR) of both the committees were overlapping. The I&B ministry had constituted the committee on 4 April to look into the issue of framing regulation for online media/news portals.

“The Ministry of I&B had constituted a Committee on 4th April 2018 for framing regulations for online media/news portals and online content including digital broadcasting which encompasses entertainment/infotainment and news/media aggregators,” minister of the state (MoS) in MIB Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore informed the Lok Sabha.

“However, since Government had constituted an Inter-Ministerial Committee on “Investment in Critical National Infrastructure, Digital Broadcasting, and related issues” which in its first meeting held on 10th May 2018 observed that some of the Terms of References (ToRs) and issues of the two Committees are common, a decision was taken to dovetail the ToR of the Committee constituted by this Ministry with that of the Committee on “Investment in Critical National Infrastructure, Digital Broadcasting, and related issues.”

The MIB’s 10-member committee comprised of MIB secretary, who was also the convener of the committee. It also included secretaries of Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY), Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), Department of Legal Affairs, and Department of Industrial Policy & Promotion (DIPP).

Apart from the secretaries, the committee also included CEO of MyGov besides representatives of Press Council of India (PCI), News Broadcasters Association (NBA), and India Broadcasting Foundation (IBF). Additionally, the convener can give representation to any department/organisation deemed fit.

The terms of reference of the committee were to delineate the sphere of online information dissemination which needs to be brought under regulation, on the lines applicable for print and electronic media.

It also had to recommend the appropriate policy formulation for online media/news portals and online content platforms including digital broadcasting which encompasses entertainment/ infotainment & news/ media aggregators, keeping in mind the extant foreign direct investment (FDI) norms, programme & advertising Code for TV channels, norms circulated by PCI code of ethics framed by NBA and norms prescribed by IBF.

It also had to analyse the international scenario on such existing regulatory mechanisms with a view to incorporate the best practices.

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