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Home > News > PTI

Govt may revise Press Act to cover news portals

October 05, 2007 11:09 IST

The 140-year-old Press and Registration of Books Act, enacted during the British period, may undergo extensive overhaul to bring into its ambit the online news portals and web editions of newspapers.

Till now the PRB Act of 1867 had been covering only hard copy editions of newspapers and books. Online news portals and web editions of newspapers did not fall within its jurisdiction.

"The print is no longer the print on paper we have had. It has also gone online on computer screens instead of the paper. The press is no longer the old galley printing press. A paper now can be published in facsimile form through dedicated telecom lines in distant cities," a senior official at the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting said.

The ministry is now keen on changing and redefining the definition of many operative terms, such as 'print', 'newspaper'. Rejecting reports that the government was eyeing the online and Internet editions with a view to controlling them, the official said the old law was being considered for change only because it had "not changed with the evolving technologies and new administrative and ownership models".

"In fact, the existing Act is a regulatory act. But the revised law would be an enabling one because it will rather facilitate, rather than hinder, the growth of print media industry," the official claimed.

Information and Broadcasting Minister P R Dasmunsi, who drew flak from the broadcasting media for his resolve to bring in the broadcasting bill, had on several occasions in the past made it clear that the PRB Act is in for an overhaul.

"In order to make the provisions under the Act of 1867 more in keeping with the current scenario and times, we are proposing to make certain amendments to make them relevant to the current economic and technological scenario," Dasmunsi said recently.

Ministry sources said the proposed act would have provisions to deal with foreign newspapers, and the FDI (foreign direct investment) in the online news portals and web editions, which did not exist at the time when Act was framed.

Besides framing rules for publishing newspapers and books, the Act provides for penalties -- in form of imprisonment and fines -- for owning press without government permission, not declaring one has stopped printing, and failure to supply newspaper copies to the government.

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