GoM meet on print cancelled again

New Delhi, Dec 29 | Updated: Dec 30 2004, 05:30am hrs
The group of ministers meeting on print media was cancelled for the third time, on Wednesday. As tsunami disaster management kept home minister Shivraj Patil and communications minister Dayanidhi Maran away on Wednesday, the meeting was cancelled once again. Mr Patil heads the GoM, which is expected to take a relook at print media norms.

Earlier, the print media GoM meet was cancelled twice in December. While the first meeting was scheduled for December 16, it got deferred as some key members were busy with Parliamentary business. When the meet was fixed a week later, it was put off again when former prime minister Narasimha Rao passed away.

Besides Mr Patil, finance minister P Chidambaram, information and broadcasting minister S Jaipal Reddy, communications minister Dayanidhi Maran and law minister H R Bhardwaj are among the members in this GoM.

The controversy over International Herald Tribune (IHT) being printed out of India prompted the government to do a rethink on print media laws. So far, there are guidelines, rather than legislation, barring foreign newspapers from printing in India. Subsequently, the government has been weighing various options of bringing a legal force to its print media norms. The I&B ministry had narrowed down on amendment to the Press & Registration of Books Act for the purpose. But about two months ago, the Union Cabinet decided to form a GoM instead to take a relook at the print media norms.

Currently, Indian edition of foreign newspapers is not allowed, as per the Cabinet Resolution of 1955. But, as an industry source put it recently, the government has the moral force of Cabinet Resolution, but theres no legal force to enforce it.

After IHT being published from India, the government has been exercising a greater control over the Registrar of Newspapers in India (RNI), which is responsible for granting titles to publications.