The Information & Broadcasting Ministry has proposed to introduce a new set of regulations to replace the archaic Press and Registration of Books (PRB) Act, 1867 that governs the registration of print and publishing industry in the country.

Through the draft Registration of Press and Periodicals (RPP) Bill, 2019, the Ministry has proposed to bring digital media in the new registration regulations’ ambit, do away with prosecution provisions of imprisonment of publishers and to simplify implementation of the registration process through a newly-created Press Registrar General.

It has therefore proposed to remove existing requirements of furnishing of declaration by publishers and printers before the District Magistrate and its subsequent authentication.

“The process of title and registration of periodicals including newspapers is proposed to be effected centrally by the Press Registrar General as a simultaneous process,” the draft Bill added.

“The Bill proposes to do away with the earlier provision under the PRB Act, 1867 of prosecution of publishers,” the Ministry stated in the draft bill which has been issued to seek views from stakeholders and public. Currently, in the PRB Act offences are punishable with an imprisonment term of up to six months as part of the penalties clause for improper disclosure of information.

Digital media

The draft Bill states that , “publishers of news on digital media shall register themselves with the Registrar of Newspapers of India”. In addition, it is proposing a simple system of registration of e-papers.

It defines news on digital media as the news in digitised format that can be transmitted over the internet, computer or mobile networks and includes text, audio, video and graphics.

“The Bill also enables the Central and the State governments to frame appropriate rules/ regulations to regulate the criteria/ conditions for issuing government advertisements in newspapers, accreditation of newspapers and other facilities for newspapers,” the Ministry stated in the draft bill

Registration of Books

In another key amendment, the draft bill also proposes to remove the existing provisions relating to registration of Books.

In the draft bill, cancellation or suspension of registration norms now also include a provision that states that if the publisher has been convicted by any court for an offence, “ involving terrorist act or unlawful activity,” it may result in cancellation of registration.