PRESS AND REGISTRATION OF PERIODICALS (PRP) BILL
Copyright infringement not intended
Context: The PRP Bill 2023 is a new legislation that aims to modernize and streamline the process of registering and regulating the print media in India was introduced by the Union Information and Broadcasting (I&B) Minister in the Rajya Sabha, and it proposes to replace the outdated PRB Act 1867, which was enacted during the British colonial rule.
- The PRP Bill 2023 intends to create a more conducive environment for the growth and development of the print and publishing industry while ensuring accountability and transparency.
- The Bill also seeks to protect the rights and interests of the publishers, journalists, and readers of the print media, and to promote the freedom of expression and dissemination of information in the country.
Press and Registration of Books (PRB) Act 1867
- The Press and Registration of Books (PRB) Act 1867 oversees India's printing and publishing business.
- It was enacted during the British colonial period and is still in effect with minor changes.
- The PRB Act's primary objectives are to govern the printing and publication of books, newspapers, and magazines, as well as to preserve copies of such publications and to allow for their registration.
Key features and provisions of the PRB Act 1867
- The Act provides for the regulation of printing presses and newspapers in India. It lays down rules and guidelines for the functioning of printing establishments to ensure responsible journalism and avoid misuse.
- It mandates the registration of all books and newspapers printed in India. Publishers are required to submit copies of their publications to the concerned authorities for preservation and record-keeping.
- It defines the term "book" broadly to include not only conventional books but also pamphlets, sheets of music, maps, charts, and other similar materials.
- It does not cover electronic media. It focuses on regulating the print media sector and does not extend to digital news platforms or electronic publications.
- Under the Act, only the District Magistrate (DM) has the authority to cancel the declaration of a periodical. The Press Registrar General (PRG) does not possess suo motu powers to cancel or suspend the Certificate of Registration granted by it.
- The Act makes an improper declaration of information a punishable offence with a potential prison term of up to 6 months.
The PRB Act 1867 has been significant legislation in the media industry in India, especially concerning print media. However, with the rapid growth of digital media and online news platforms, there have been calls for modernizing regulations and bringing digital news under a more comprehensive legal framework. The introduction of the Press and Registration of Periodicals (PRP) Bill 2023 is a step towards addressing these issues and updating the regulatory landscape to encompass digital news platforms.
Salient provisions of the Press and Registration of Periodicals (PRP) Bill 2023
- It simplifies the registration process for periodicals by requiring only a one-time registration with the Press Registrar General (PRG), instead of filing annual statements and declarations before the District Magistrate (DM).
- It extends the registration requirement to digital news platforms, which were not covered by the previous act. The digital news platforms will have to do a one-time registration with the PRG within six months of the commencement of the act.
- It gives more powers to the PRG to suspend or cancel the registration of a periodical if it violates any provision of the act or any other law.
- It prohibits any person who has been convicted of a terrorist act, an unlawful activity, or anything against the security of the state from bringing out a periodical. The PRG can also refuse to register such a person or cancel their registration if they are already registered.
- It reduces the punishment for publishing a periodical without a certificate of registration or continuing to publish after the suspension or cancellation of registration by the PRG. The previous act provided for imprisonment of up to six months and a fine for such offences. The new bill provides for imprisonment only if the publisher fails to stop publishing within six months of receiving a direction from the PRG.
- It creates an appellate authority, called the Press and Registration Appellate Board, to hear appeals against the decisions of the PRG. The board will consist of the chairperson and two members of the Press Council of India (PCI), which is a statutory body that oversees media ethics and standards.
- The PRP Bill 2023 is expected to bring more transparency and accountability in the media sector and also ensure compliance with other laws related to national security, public order, defamation, etc. However, some critics have raised concerns about the potential misuse of the powers given to the PRG and the impact on media freedom and diversity. The bill is currently under consideration by a parliamentary committee, which will submit its report within three months.
ROLE OF MEDIA: https://www.iasgyan.in/daily-current-affairs/role-of-media-7
Q. What is the role of the media in a democracy, and why is it considered a significant pillar of democratic governance? Discuss its impact on society, governance, and public opinion. Additionally, highlight some of the challenges faced by the media in fulfilling its democratic role and suggest possible ways forward to address these challenges effectively.