The central government issued an order that digital media, including online news portals and content providers, would now be under the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting. The notification, which was signed by President Ram Nath Kovind was issued on Monday.
At present, there is no law or autonomous body governing digital content. The order was announced in a gazette notification on Wednesday and it amended the Government of India (Allocation of Business) Rules to include ‘films and audiovisual programmes made available by online content providers’ and ‘news and current affairs content on online platforms’ under the purview of the I&B Ministry headed by Union Minister Prakash Javadekar.
In the present scenario, The Press Council of India takes care of the print media, news channels are monitored by News Broadcasters Association (NBA), Advertising Standards Council of India looks after the advertising industry self-regulatory body and Central Board of Film Certification(CBFC) takes care of films.
In October, the Supreme Court had sought the central government’s response on a petition for regulating over-the-top platforms (OTT) through an autonomous body. The top court issued notices to the Centre, I&B Ministry and Internet and Mobile Association of India.
OTT platforms include various news ports as well as streaming services like Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and Hotstar which are available over the internet.
In a separate case, the Information and Broadcasting Ministry had told the apex court that there is a need to regulate digital media and the court may appoint a committee of persons as amicus for laying down of guidelines with respect to the regulation of hate speech in media.
Union Minister Prakash Javadekar, last year, had said that though the Centre will not take any step that can curb freedom of media but there should be a regulation mechanism for OTT platforms just as it is there is for other mediums like print and electronic media.