I&B Ministry proposes to replace PRB Act with a new law

The Information and Broadcasting Ministry (I&B) has come up with a draft bill to replace the Press and Registration of Books (PRB) Act, 1867 with a new law to bring digital media under the regulatory framework of the government.

The draft Registration of Press and Periodicals (RPP) Bill, 2019 also seeks to do away with the existing provision for prosecution of the publishers under the PRB Act.

It also proposes to do away with the existing procedure of furnishing a declaration by publishers/printers before the district magistrate and its subsequent authentication. But the provisions for imposition of penalties (fine) for violation of various provisions under the proposed law will continue to remain.

The draft Bill bars such persons from bringing out a publication who has been convicted by any court for an offence “involving terrorist act or unlawful activity. It also bars such persons from bring out a publication who have been convicted for having done “anything against the security of the State.”

For the purpose of this provision, the Bill clarifies, the expression “terrorist act” or “unlawful activity” shall have the meanings respectively assigned to them in the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967.

“The Bill proposes to have a simple system of registration of the e-papers,” the ministry stated in covering note highlighting “the salient features” of the draft bill.

According to the draft RPP Bill, 2019, the publishers of the news on digital media “shall” register themselves with the Registrar of Newspapers of India (RNI) “in such manner and giving such particulars as may be prescribed (under the rules to be frame under the proposed law).”

The bill defines the term—News on Digital Media—as “the news in digitized format” that can be transmitted over the internet, computer or mobile networks and includes text, audio, video and graphics.

The bill, which proposes to remove the provisions relating to the registration of the books and the matters connected thereto under the PRB Act, seeks to bring certain changes in the process of title and registration of the periodicals as well as that of the newspapers.

“The process of title and registration of periodicals including newspapers is proposed to be effected centrally by the Press Registrar General as a simultaneous process,” the ministry said, placing the draft RPP Bill in public domain inviting comments and suggestions from the stakeholders.

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