I&B Ministry proposes to replace archaic PRB Act for registration of print and publishing industry

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News:The Information & Broadcasting Ministry has proposed the introduction of draft Registration of Press and Periodicals (RPP) Bill,2019.

Facts:

  • The draft bill will replace the Press and Registration of Books (PRB) Act,1867 which currently regulates printing presses and newspapers.

Features of the Draft Bill:

Digital media:

  • The bill proposes to remove books under its provisions and includes Digital media which are not registered with any authority in the country at the moment.
  • The bill states that publishers of news on digital media shall register themselves with the Registrar of Newspapers of India.
  • 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.

Registration process:

  • The bill significantly simplifies the registration process of a newspaper and proposes the appointment of a press registrar general and other officers by the central government.
  • The proposed bill does not give powers to local authorities such as the magistrate to arrest a person or seize equipment for being in contravention of provisions of the law.
  • However,it does provide the Press Registrar to cancel a publication’s registration if found to be going against the law.
  • An appellate board named the Press and Registration Appellate Board, for any person aggrieved by an order of the Press Registrar will consist of the chairman of the Press Council of India and another member who will be nominated by the Press Council.

Prosecution provisions:

  • The draft bill has also proposed to do away with the prosecution provisions of imprisonment of publishers.
  • Currently,the Act offences are punishable with an imprisonment term of up to six months as part of the penalty clause for improper disclosure of information.
  • Further,the bill also enables the Central and the State governments to frame appropriate rules to regulate the criteria for issuing government advertisements in newspapers, accreditation of newspapers and other facilities.