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I&B Ministry: Over 3 months after IT Rules notification, registration of self-regulatory bodies for OTT and News still in process

The Ministry of Information & Broadcasting said in response to an RTI Application to MediaNama that the registration of self-regulatory bodies for news organisations and streaming services is still under process. The Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021, specifically Rule 12(3), requires that:

The self-regulating body shall, after its constitution in accordance with sub-rule (2), register itself with the Ministry within a period of thirty days from the date of notification of these rules, and where a self-regulating body is constituted after such period, within thirty days from the date of its constitution:

Provided that before grant of registration to the self-regulating body, the Ministry shall satisfy itself that the self-regulating body has been constituted in accordance with sub-rule (2) and has agreed to perform the functions laid down in sub-rules (4) and (5). — IT Rules

The IT Rules were notified on February 25, meaning it has been more than three months, far exceeding the timeline set out originally for the registration of news and streaming self-regulation bodies. These bodies are required to accept appeals of complaints that are not resolved at levels below them. The longer duration being taken to process the registration reflects the complications of setting up these organisations and the concerns that the industry has voiced in the burdens that come with complying with the Rules’ requirements.

The Internet and Mobile Association of India has announced that it has set up the Digital Publishers Content Grievance Council (DPCGC), and has appointed Justice AK Sikri as the head of its Grievance Redressal Board. However, the I&B Ministry’s response seems to indicate that the DPCGC’s registration may not have been fully processed just yet.

Streaming services go with two SRBs

Some streaming services have chosen instead to go with the Indian Broadcasting Foundation, which will be renaming itself soon as the Indian Broadcasting & Digital Foundation (IBDF). The IBDF has not yet announced the constitution of its Grievance Redressal Board, and a top official told MediaNama that 11 streaming services have given in principle approval to their joining of the previously cable-only body. That organisation will make an announcement in the coming days, the official said.

The IT Rules require streaming services to take grievance complaints from the general public through a designated officer, and to join a self-regulatory body like the IBF or the IAMAI’s DPCGC. This body will, in turn, have its decisions be appealable to the government, via an inter-departmental committee, which will be empowered to tell streaming platforms to take down content that they find to be unlawful.

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Text of RTI response

The RTI application response from the I&B Ministry is as follows:

There is no requirement for registration of publishers under the Information Technology
(Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021. The publishers are required to furnish certain basic information to the government under rule 18 of the said Rules.

The registration of self-regulating bodies under rule 12 of Information Technology
(Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021 is under process.

Update (June 18): This post has been updated with more context.

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