Ten large media organisations – Dainik Bhaskar, the India Today Group, NDTV, the Hindustan Times, the Indian Express, the Times of India, Amar Ujala, Dainik Jagran, Eenadu and Malayala Manorama – are forming the Digital News Publishers Association, BestMediaInfo reports. “The organization is committed to providing the most credible news in all languages to the Indian audience, to self-regulation and to promoting the business and editorial interests of all members,” NDTV said in a statement.

The DNPA is leaderless, and will admit new members as long as they’re approved by the board. According to MCA’s online records, the association is not incorporated yet, and hence the board members are not known.

This comes months after the Information & Broadcasting minister Rajyavardhan Rathore said that online news organisations needed to self-regulate. That demand came shortly before that ministry disbanded its online content regulation committee, created after the reversal of a controversial step to de-accredit journalists who were found to be spreading ‘fake news’.

Self-regulation and media ownership

At MediaNama’s open house discussion on content regulation, Abhinandan Sekhri of Newslaundry said, “I think they [digital news publishers] should make an association and have a voice. But while it will deal with some content regulatory aspects, it should mainly look at structuring laws around businesses, how you structure companies. That doesn’t impact individual bloggers or people who are just [browsing] the internet. I think [media ownership] is a far bigger debate and a wider debate and impacts millions of people whereas a body comprising The Quint, Newslaundry etc would be speaking for limited interests. While it could have a larger scope, that would be the ideal purpose.”

He pointed out how media ownership law itself had discouraged diversity of news in India: “In the UK, the rule is that you can’t own more than 20% of the newspaper market, which of course relies on accurate circulation numbers. Meanwhile in India, if you have FDI, the rule is that one Indian player must own 51% of the company. Therefore it becomes much more fragmented. This is applicable for digital publications too. Depending on who you ask, though, digital news sites are classified as either broadcast or non-broadcast.”

Read more#NAMApolicy Delhi: Regulation of Online News Content