Centre presses to regulate “Web-Based Digital Media”.

Centre presses to regulate “Web-Based Digital Media”.
Supreme Court of India, New Delhi

Interesting developments in Sudarshan Channel’s - “UPSC Jihad” – coverage case.

The bench of Justices DY Chandrachud, KM Joseph & Indu Malhotra had asked the Centre to file an affidavit stating how the NBA (News Broadcasters Association) can be given more power to regulate content on the air. MIB (Ministry of Information and Broadcasting) in its affidavit to SC, today, stated that if the print or electronic media is regulated any further, then they would be incentivized to use digital media for putting forth their content.

Currently, there are no guidelines regarding regulation of Digital Media (web-magazines, web-based news channels, & web-based news-papers) & are these are in essence uncontrolled.

 Centre in its affidavit, filed today, claimed that any attempts at further curbing of freedom of electronic media would push broadcasters towards web-based digital media.

"Any further regulation of electronic and print media by this Hon'ble Court either by way of guidelines or providing for any redressal mechanism would incentivise broadcasters [who may otherwise be desirous of publishing / telecasting undesirable content] to use electronic media less and telecast/publish the same thing on digital platforms which would remain unregulated despite having wider reach without any corresponding responsibility or obligation" - Affidavit filed by Centre.

Centre in its affidavit also averred that spectrum & Internet being used by web-based digital media is public property, similar to airwaves used by Electronic media.

"There is a parallel media which is going on with wider reach and impact. The way electronic media uses “airwaves” [which is a public property], the web-based digital media also uses “spectrum” and “internet” which is also public property. Web-based digital media include digital web portals, web magazines and channels run on video hosting platforms such as youtube etc, which are in lakhs and crores in numbers" - Affidavit filed by Centre.

Centre further stated that Digital Media is the primary source of spreading hate and violence.

"There is absolutely no check on the web-based digital media. Apart from spreading venomous hatred, deliberate and intended instigation to not only cause violence but even terrorism it is also capable of indulging in tarnishing the image of individuals and institutions. The said practice is, in fact, rampant" - Affidavit filed by Centre.