New Delhi: Digipub, representing 11 Indian digital-only news media organisations, has sought a hearing from the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting before any policy is drawn up for regulating the nascent sector or limiting foreign investment into it, adding that “legacy media companies cannot accurately and completely reflect digital aspirations and concerns.”
In a statement released on Tuesday, Digipub said any restrictive policy would put “Indian companies at a serious disadvantage to foreign news brands and disincentivise entrepreneurs from incorporating companies in India that could be a part of the India growth story,”
Reacting to the Central government issuing notifications, making statements in court and coming out with proposals in a bid to regulate digital media in the past month, Digipub said “any hastily issued policies and rules could prove disastrous to India’s right to stay informed”, adding that this would have a “profound, lasting impact on the digital media sector” which was in already the process of formulating guidelines for self-regulation and conduct and was open to suggestions on it.
“We urge the Minister for Information and Broadcasting to give us a hearing. We are confident that we can together create a framework that will be nurturing to the digital media economy as well as set high standards on journalism, while addressing other concerns,” read the statement.
DIGIPUB News India Foundation was formed in October end with the coming together of 11 Indian digital-only news organisations to “represent, amplify and evolve best practices to build a robust digital news ecology”. The group has, as members, NewsMinute, Newsclick, Newslaundry, The Wire, Scroll.in. Alt News, Article 14, Boomlive, Cobrapost, HW News and The Quint.
The Foundation is headed by chairperson Dhanya Rajendran from The News Minute, the vice chairperson is Prabir Purkayastha from Newsclick and the two general secretaries are Ritu Kapur from The Quint and Abhinandan Sekhri from Newslaundry.
Read the full statement below:
Digipub statement on GoI’s proposals on digital media in India:
The Central government has over the past few months issued notifications, stated in court and made proposals that will have a profound, lasting impact on the digital media sector. Digipub, an organisation of digital-only news publications, has the following statement on these moves.
These notices and interventions contain suggestions and proposals to regulate content, to bring digital news publishers under the purview of the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting and limit Foreign Direct Investment for Indian digital news publishers. A draft bill of the amended Press and Registration of Books Act (shared last year as a draft RPP Bill, Registration of Press and Periodicals Bill, 2019) has also been circulated.
Despite being in its infancy, the digital news industry in India has done a remarkable job in keeping the nation informed on a variety of otherwise-hidden events and issues, thanks to many committed professionals, journalists and media entrepreneurs. A restrictive regulatory framework could seriously inhibit its capacity to grow and realise the dream of a digital India with news media companies competing with the best in the world.
The government’s policy interventions and prescriptions could seriously limit that potential rather than provide a conducive growth environment to Indian companies and the Indian digital sector. In addition, they would put Indian companies at a serious disadvantage to foreign news brands and disincentivise entrepreneurs from incorporating companies in India that could be a part of the India growth story.
We urge the government of India to undertake a detailed consultation with all stake holders, especially digital-only entities that will bear the strongest impact of these policies. Legacy media companies cannot accurately and completely reflect digital aspirations and concerns.
With regards to content, Digipub is working on guidelines for conduct and self-regulatory rules that we would be happy to discuss with all stakeholders. We welcome suggestions on the guidelines.
In the midst of a pandemic when economies, investments and jobs are faltering in India and around the world, such moves by the government are likely to do more harm than good. Restrictive policies could have serious consequences, including job losses.
We urge the Minister for Information and Broadcasting to give us a hearing. We are confident that we can together create a framework that will be nurturing to the digital media economy as well as set high standards on journalism, while addressing other concerns. Hastily issued policies and rules could prove disastrous to India’s right to stay informed.
Dhanya Rajendran - Chairperson
Ritu Kapur- General Secy.
November 17, 2020.