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I&B Ministry approves three more associations including DIGIPUB

But the basis for picking industry bodies to self-regulate online news is still anyone’s guess.

DIGIPUB News India Foundation has been granted approval by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (MIB) to function as a self-regulatory body (SRB) for publishers of news and current affairs content as per Rule 12 of the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021, according to a notice uploaded on the ministry’s website.

The self-regulatory body will be headed by former Supreme Court of India judge Madan Lokur along with two other committee members: Swarna Rajagopalan, Founder and Director, Prajnya Trust; and Bezwada Wilson, National Convenor, Safai Karamchari Andolan.

“The process took longer than it should have as there was a reconciliation exercise. The Ministry (MIB) wanted to ensure that those on the DIGIPUB list had registered with the Ministry as per the digital media rules,” DIGIPUB’s Chairperson Dhanya Rajendran told MediaNama.

Rule 12 of the IT Rules stipulates that publishers would have to form an independent body for grievance redressal. The self-regulatory body must be headed by a retired judge of the Supreme Court or a High Court. They can also be an eminent person from the field of media, broadcasting, entertainment, child rights, and human rights. The body will not have more than six committee members.

A total of eight bodies have received approval from the MIB since the IT Rules came into effect in May last year. The criteria for granting approval to these bodies continue to remain unclear and the government has made no efforts to reveal them either. It is ironic given that the purported aim of the IT Rules is to bring about transparency and accountability.

Two others granted approval to serve as an SRB

Besides DIGIPUB, the MIB has granted approvals to the Working Journalist Media Council (WJMC) and Digital Media Publishers & News Portal Grievance Council of India.

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What is the composition of these bodies?

The following are WJMC committee members:

  • Chair: Kumar Saurav, Journalist
  • Praveen Govind Jha, Journalist
  • Vinit Panday, Legal advisor to media houses
  • Sameer Goyal, Legal advisor to media houses
  • Gunjan, National President, WJMC
  • J.P Tripathi, Vice President, WJMC

Here’s a list of Digital Media Publishers & News Portal Grievance Council of India committee members:

  • Chair: Firdos Mirza, Bombay High Court advocate
  • E.Z. Khobragade, IAS (Retd.)
  • Vinayak Deshpande, Vice-Chancellor, G.H Raisoni University
  • Dr. Vikas Pathak, Deputy Political Editor, Outlook Magazine
  • Anand Deshpande, Bombay High Court advocate
  • Kalyan Kumar, Bombay High Court advocate
  • Devnath Gandate, Journalist

Why is the government not revealing the criteria to grant approval?

For example, DIGIPUB* had to follow up for months with the ministry. MIB has not even revealed the date on which DIGIPUB first applied for registration. The date of communication is specified in the approval letters of other SRBs. Hence, the missing piece of information in DIGIPUB’s case is interesting.

MediaNama had sent the following questions to Amarendra Singh, Deputy Secretary, Digital Media, MIB, while reporting on the approval granted to another self-regulatory body in March 2022:

  1. What is the process of registering as a self-regulatory body under the IT Rules 2021 with the ministry?
  2. How many applications have been approved so far?
  3. What is the criteria on which approval is granted by the ministry?
  4. How much time does it take on average for the ministry to grant approvals?
  5. What are grounds for rejection of the application?
  6. How many applications are pending with the ministry?

It did not elicit any response. Moreover, a Right to Information (RTI) request was filed with the digital media division of the MIB. “This Division does not deal with Self Regulating Organisation. Therefore, the desired information is not available,” was the response. A response to another RTI related to self-regulatory bodies pointed to the provisions laid down in the IT Rules for self-regulatory bodies.

The MIB is yet to codify the parameters of the self-regulatory body as there are no clear guidelines on how an organisation can obtain approval. One of the questions which need to be clarified is if the decisions on complaints will be made by the panel of six, or is there a provision for forming sub-committees. MIB should also clarify the tenure of the members and the head of a self-regulatory body.

Which organisations come under each of these SRBs?

The organisations affiliated with DIGIPUB are:

  1. FactChecker
  2. eNewsroom India
  3. Citizen Matters
  4. Mojo Story
  5. Azhimukham
  6. Anweshanam
  7. HW News
  8. India Spend
  9. Indian Writers Forum
  10. G Plus
  11. MediaNama
  12. Newsclick
  13. Newslaundry
  14. News Moments
  15. Nezine Media
  16. Nicobar Times
  17. NorthEast Now
  18. Ommcom News
  19. People’s Archive of Rural India
  20. People’s Reporter
  21. Satya Hindi
  22. Scroll
  23. MxMIndia
  24. Way2News
  25. TIME8
  26. The Sikkim Chronicle
  27. The Shudra
  28. The Newsrupt
  29. The News Minute
  30. The India Forum
  31. The Cue
  32. The Citizen
  33. The Better India
  34. Suno India
  35. SouthLive
  36. The Ken
  37. The Leaflet
  38. The Morning Context
  39. The News Mill
  40. The Public India
  41. Clarion India
  42. Dool 360 News
  43. FactCrescendo
  44. MaxMaharashtra Media
  45. News Meter
  46. Millat Times
  47. True Copy
  48. Sakshi Joshi
  49. Aajtak Marathi
  50. Cobrapost
  51. ED Times
  52. Asiaville
  53. Bar and Bench
  54. News East Mojo
  55. Media Vigil
  56. Freemedia Interactive Pvt Ltd (Faye D’Souza)
  57. Inside NorthEast
  58. BehindWoods
  59. evartha
  60. Dastak Live News
  61. Akash Banerji (Namb Digital Media)
  62. Ajit Anjum
  63. Vibes of India

These are the websites associated with the WJMC:

  1. gbn24.com
  2. pniindia.com
  3. samacharexpress.co
  4. newsbharattime.com
  5. today24news.in
  6. pulse24news.com
  7. dtvbharat.com
  8. dpknewsindia.com
  9. spottv.in
  10. voiceofrights.in
  11. headlinepost.net
  12. vnmtvnews.com
  13. bn24live.in
  14. pradeshagenda.com
  15. bharatatoznews.com
  16. Gnanews.in
  17. newsonlinelive.tv
  18. tniawaaz.in
  19. republicnationnews.in
  20. kvpbhaarat.in
  21. nationagenda.com
  22. vardannews.com
  23. janjannews.com
  24. sks24news.in
  25. ajayabharat.com

The following are the organisations under the Digital Media Publishers & News Portal Grievance Council of India:

  1. khabarbat.in
  2. bramhawarta.in
  3. thevidarbhagazette.com
  4. news34.in
  5. aatmnirbharkhabar.com
  6. publicpanchanama.com
  7. dakhalnewsbharat.com
  8. policewalaa.com
  9. purogamisandesh.in
  10. yuvamarathanews.com
  11. politicsspeciallive.com
  12. varhaddoot.com
  13. mybhuminews.com
  14. suryamarathinews.com
  15. chandradhun.com
  16. indiadastaknewstv.com
  17. loktantrakiawaaz.co.in
  18. chandrapurvarta.in
  19. vidarbhaathawadi.in
  20. adharnewsnetwork.com
  21. mh34updatenews.com
  22. impact24news.com
  23. abhivrutta.com
  24. khabarbatchikhalichi.com
  25. mbnews24taas.in
  26. bhumiputrachihak.com
  27. wazir.org.in
  28. chandrapurkranti.in
  29. mahadarpannews.com
  30. rashtrahitnews.in
  31. purogamiekta.in
  32. safarkikhabar.com
  33. chandrapurexpress.in
  34. lokwachaknews.com
  35. Rokhthok.com
  36. maharashtra24marathi.in
  37. jwalasamachar.in
  38. hasariduniya.com
  39. aamchavidarbha.com
  40. janlakshya.com
  41. khabardarmaharashtra.com
  42. kasamadetimes.in
  43. pratikarnews.com
  44. chandabusiness.in
  45. vadgaonnews.in
  46. pmdigitalnews.in
  47. marathienewsnetwork.com
  48. globalmaharashtranews.com
  49. exposedbylimeshkumar.com
  50. vruttwani.com
  51. theonlinereporter.com
  52. vansamachar.in
  53. crimetapasdiary.in
  54. lokbatmidar.com
  55. vidarbhawatan.com
  56. dincharyanews.in
  57. lokdarshan.in
  58. thegdv.com
  59. godavaritimes.live
  60. vidarbhakrantinews.com
  61. dedhakkaexpress.com
  62. patrakarsna4.com
  63. thechandrapurtimes.com
  64. Gondwanadarpan.com
  65. Publicsamachar.in
  66. policepatrakar.in
  67. bsrnews24.com
  68. shivshaktitimesnews.com
  69. politicaltadka.com
  70. whnews.in
  71. ibmtv9.in
  72. crimeoperation.com

Which SRBs have been approved by MIB?

There were five SRBs that were approved before April 2022:

*Disclaimer: MediaNama is a member of the DIGIPUB News Media Foundation. 

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Written By

I cover several beats such as Crypto, Telecom, and OTT at MediaNama. I can be found loitering at my local theatre when I am off work consuming movies by the dozen.

MediaNama’s mission is to help build a digital ecosystem which is open, fair, global and competitive.

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