The Indian Newspaper Society has written a letter to Prakash Javadekar, Minister of Information and Broadcasting. Through the letter, the INS has requested the Government to allow the websites of newspapers and magazines to not be a part of the IT Rules 2021.
This follows the Government calling for a three-tier grievance redressal mechanism with regards for dealing with complaints regarding content for digital media publishers (news and OTT). The Government had suggested that along with self-regulation by the publishers, there shall also be self-regulation by the self-regulating bodies of the publishers and an oversight mechanism by the Central Government.
The letter states that self-regulation is the only way to improve journalistic standards in the country. It adds that digital websites of Indian newspapers are extension of the printed newspapers which follow the self-regulation guidelines put-in-place by the newspapers. The letter added that since media houses are working with 'skeletal staff' during the Covid-19 pandemic, they would require a six-month extension to form the self-regulatory bodies.
The Government had also asked social media intermediaries with registered users in India above a threshold, to be classified as 'Significant Social Media Intermediaries'. Additional due diligence to be observed by these intermediaries include: (i) appointing a chief compliance officer to ensure compliance with the IT Act and the Rules, (ii) appointing a grievance officer residing in India, and (iii) publishing a monthly compliance report.
The INS has also requested the Government that newspapers' digital websites should not be equated with social media, as they are not spreaders of fake news.
Along with this, the INS has also asked the Government to withdraw the 5% customs duty on newsprint. The letter stated that there's a shortfall of 1.5 million tons in domestic capacity, which makes newspaper publishers import. The 5% customs duty is causing tremendous stress to publishers according to the INS.