The I&B ministry is presently in the process of amending the Press and Registration of Books Act making efforts to incorporate definition of paid news.
The Information and Broadcasting ministry is planning a comprehensive mechanism to check the menace of paid news and has submitted notes to Law ministry to examine issues related to amending the Representation of People Act and the Press Council Act. In a statement tabled by Minister of State for Information and Broadcasting Rajyavardhan Rathore, the ministry said that on the basis of examination by Law ministry, the issues would be considered further and if required, the proposal would be submitted for approval of the Cabinet.
The report said the Law Ministry has been asked to submit a note to I&B ministry on the proposal that Representation of People Act be amended to make incidence of paid news a punishable electoral malpractice. It has also been sent to Law ministry for examination that Press Council of India (PCI) must be fully empowered to adjudicate the complaints of paid news and give final judgement in the matter.
Besides, based on the recommendations of the Standing Committee on Information Technology on ‘Press amd Registration of Books and Publications Bill’, inclusion of provisions in the Bill to check the incidents of Paid News has been proposed, the statement said.
It added that the issue of formulating a comprehensive policy and institutional mechanism to address the phenomenon of paid news is under the consideration of the government. The statement tabled by the Minister regarding the status of recommendations contained in the 47th report of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Information and Technology added that while all TV channels are required to abide by the programming and advertisement code under the Cable TV Regulation Act, paid news is not defined there. If paid news is to be brought under the purview of the Cable TV Act, it would have to be amended, the report said, adding that the I&B ministry is presently in the process of amending the Press and Registration of Books Act making efforts to incorporate definition of paid news.
“Once such amendments recieve the consent of Parliament, the ministry would be in a position to carry out amendment in the Programme Code to incorporate similar definition of paid news. A view would be taken thereafter in the ministry,” the statement added.
The Standing Committee on Information and Technology had earlier in its report expressed concern that certain sections of the media had started receiving monetary or other benefits for publishing or broadcasting in favour of individuals or organisations, a phenomenon referred to a paid news. It had expressed concern and emphasised on the urgency to curb paid news.