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Govt to curb misuse of press registration

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New Delhi, Nov 5 :

With over 99,500 registered publications in India and only around 20,000 of them actually filing their annual statements, the government is planning to bring in legislation to curb the tendency to register a publication in order to just book the name.

Prakash Javadekar Information and Broadcasting Minister Prakash Javadekar, releasing the Press in India report 2013-14 here Wednesday, said it was heartening to note that last year over 5,000 new publications were registered — around 30 every day.

But among the many who register their publications, “how many actually run the paper?” he asked.

He added that in the process, many people block the domain names of publications by sitting on them for years without coming out with an issue.

Javadekar said there was a proposal under active consideration that if a publication does not come out with an issue six months to a year after registration, then “the title will be freed” for future use.

Stressing on the need for “responsible freedom” for the press, Javadekar also noted that the Press Council of India’s (PCI) censure on media has been largely ignored.

He said whenever the PCI passed direction on a media outlet for carrying an addendum by way of censure, it had not been adhered to, and indicated that the PCI would be given more teeth.

The minister said with the rise in income levels and literacy rates, more people were reading newspapers.

Though people watch news on TV, at the end of the day people prefer to read the written word, which holds great promise for the print media, he said.

Javadekar also proposed that the Registrar of Newspapers for India (RNI) would soon launch an online submission of applications for filing for publication titles.

He said this would save people from continually having to go to the RNI office. Those who file online would also get an SMS informing them of the status of their application.

He said that the RNI was creating an online database of the email and contacts of owners of newspapers and periodicals.

He said the regional language media was doing well, which he said was a good example of press freedom in India.

According to Press Registrar and Head of Department RNI S.M. Khan, an amendment is proposed in the Press and Registration of Books Act, 1987, for de-recognition to those who repeatedly indulge in “paid news” and those publications that do not file annual statements.

He said that currently the fine for not filing the annual statement was Rs.500.

The disparity between the huge number of registered periodicals in India – 99,600 – to the paltry number of those who file annual statements, of around 20,000, suggests many were just registering in order to block the titles, he added.

(IANS)