Cabinet nod for amendment to law on print media policy

New Delhi, Feb 10 (PTI) A comprehensive bill to replacethe age-old law relating to print media that will coverinternet edition of newspapers and include provisions onlimits on foreign news content and investment was todayapproved by the Union Cabinet.

At the meeting chaired by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh,the Cabinet decided to amend the 1867 Press and Registrationof Books Act to streamline the age-old processes pertaining tothe print media policy.

Under the proposed Press and Registration of Books andPublications Bill 2010, persons convicted of terrorist andunlawful activities would not be allowed to bring out anypublication. "There was no such provision in the earlier law,"Information and Broadcasting Minister Ambika Soni said.

The comprehensive legislation, to be brought soon, wouldaddress issues ranging from title verification, definitions ofpublications including internet editions of newspapers. Itwill have various other provisions -- from those on preventingblocking of titles to those relating to limits on foreign newscontent and foreign investment.

Noting that there has been a phenomenal growth in thepublishing industry in recent years with over 70,000publications coming out, I and B Secretary Raghu Menon saidthe bill would streamline the process of title verificationand prevent "squatters" on titles which have been blocked formany years and no publication brought out.

Under the proposed bill which would be "moreuser-friendly", the publication should be out within one yearof allotment of title and there should be regular submissionof annual statements by the publisher.

The periodicity of publication and submission of annualstatements would be made mandatory.

"There have been a number of guidelines and executiveorders on the FDI limit, facsimile editions, scientific,technical and other specialised journals. But these have hadno statutory backing. This bill will now provide the legalbacking to these guidelines," Menon said.

Asked whether any change has been made in the FDIlimits, he said "the limits on FDI or on foreign publicationsare already there. We have not amended this. What we have doneis to provide statutory backing to the guidelines. There hasbeen no change in FDI limits".

Regarding titles, he said the Registrar of Newspapersfor India (RNI) has de-blocked "thousands of titles which havebeen lying unused for a long time. Now, it will be mandatoryto launch a publication within a time-frame once a title isgranted. Now there will be a proper legal backing to thisprocess".

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