Government Amending Press Act Of 1867; Draft By March 2010

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The government is working on “drastically amending” the Press and Registration of Books Act of 1867, which regulates the print media in the country and a draft of the new Act will be made available by March 2010, information and broadcasting minister Ambika Soni today said (via Business Standard).

“Though the Act of 1867 has been amended on earlier occasions also, there is a need to drastically amend it, and I admit it should have been done some time ago, as its provisions currently are inadequate,” PTI quoted the minister as saying. The changes are apparently meant to prevent publications of a ‘frivolous’ and ‘non-serious’ nature from coming up.

Currently, the changes are being vetted by the law ministry, the minister said. This suggests that the process is at a fairly advanced stage. The new act will be known as the Press and Registration of Publications Act 2009. Parts dealing with the registration of books are not being changed.

Provisions for FDI, facsimile editions of foreign publications as well as Indian editions of foreign publications will be made in the new Act. A seperate definition for magazines and related provisions for them, will be made under the new Act. In the current form, the Act does not differentiate between a newspaper and a magazine.

Soni also said the ministry is being urged to increase the foreign investment cap in print media to 49% but there is a section within the industry that is opposed to it.

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