How Centre's new rules will impact digital news portals

Explained | How Centre’s new guidelines will impact digital news portals

The Centre said these soft-touch self-regulatory rules are necessary to ensure a level playing field in the industry

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The government on Thursday announced new guidelines for social media, over-the-top (OTT) platforms and digital news websites, addressing the lack of 'appropriate institutional mechanism’ for digital media.

The new code administered by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting is the first of its kind for social media and standalone digital news websites. 

According to the code, publishers of news on digital media are required to follow the Norms of Journalistic Conduct of the Press Council of India and the Programme Code under the Cable Television Networks Regulation Act.

The Centre believes these norms will help curb ‘fake news’ prevalent on digital news platforms. “Of late, some very disturbing developments are observed on the social media platforms. The persistent spread of fake news compelled many media platforms to create fact-check mechanisms,” said a government statement.

The government describes these regulations as 'light-touch' rules to bring digital news under the purview of the same rules as offline media.

Read | OTT, social media guidelines released: Key takeaways

If consumers believe any OTT or news platform has violated any guideline, they will now be able to approach the concerned organisation through a three-tier redressal mechanism set up by the new code.

The first level will be self-regulation by the publishers of the content, the second level is regulation by self-regulating bodies of the publishers and the third will be an oversight mechanism. The content publishers have to appoint a Grievance Redressal Officer based in India.

The Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules 2021, unveiled on Thursday, were rolled out after the government had received several complaints raising concerns over the “rampant abuse of social media platforms”.

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