I&B ministry scraps committee to regulate online media

I&B ministry scraps committee to regulate online media

Union Sports Minister Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore speaks in the Rajya Sabha during the Monsoon session of Parliament, in New Delhi on Thursday. PTI

The Information and Broadcasting (I&B) Ministry has scrapped the Committee which was set up a few months ago to bring online portals and infotainment sites under a regulatory framework.

The ministry has dissolved the 10-member panel and handed over its task to an inter-ministerial committee which has been mandated to examine the issues pertaining to “investment in critical national infrastructure, digital broadcasting and other related issues,” and make its recommendations

“Since an inter-ministerial committee was already in place to look into the issues pertaining to digital media, it was decided to dovetail the terms of references of the panel set up by the I&B ministry with that of the inter-ministerial committee,” ministry sources told DH.

The inter-ministerial committee to look into various issues pertaining to digital media was set up at the initiative of the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology. The I&B ministry secretary is one of the members in this panel.

The I&B ministry, then under Union Minister Smriti Irani, had set up a 10-member committee in April to formulate a regulatory framework for the online media, drawing flak from the various media bodies and journalists organisations.

“There is no norms or guidelines to regulate the online media and news portals including digital broadcasting. Hence, it has been decided to constitute a committee to frame and suggest a regulatory framework for online media/news portals including digital broadcasting and entertaining/infotainment sites/media aggregator,” the ministry said in its notification on April 4.

While replying to a written question in the Lok Sabha on the government's stand on the proposal to regulate the online news media, I&B Minister Rajyavardhan Rathore maintained that the government was committed to freedom of speech and expression as well as the privacy of its citizens as enshrined in the Constitution of India.

“Law enforcement agencies take action on the posting of malicious content on the specific case to case basis,” he also said.

To another question, he also told the Lok Sabha that there was no proposal with the government to introduce any legislation to regulate news portals for their registration.

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