Journalist bodies – The National Alliance of Journalists (NAJ), the Delhi Union of Journalists (DUJ), and the Andhra Pradesh Working Journalists Federation (APWJF) join the Network of Women in Media India, (NWMI) and the Editors Guild of India and others – have expressed “grave reservations” against the proposed Broadcasting Services (Regulation) Bill 2023. They describe it as a “gateway to censorship”.

 In a joint statement the NAJ, DUJ, and APWJF say that this proposed Bill is a step further “to expanding a new era of undeclared censorship” and increasing government control over all types of media from TV channels, to films, and platforms like Netflix and Prime Video, YouTube, radio, even Instagram and other social media platforms as well as news websites and journalists.

The Broadcasting Services (Regulation) Bill, 2023 comes on the heels of the Telecom Act of 2023, the Digital Personal Data Protection Act, 2023, and the IT Amendment Rules, 2023.

According to the statement, the Broadcasting Bill blurs the distinction between journalism and content creation. “The definition of news and current affair has been deliberately left so broad that all sorts of online media can be controlled through it. It clubs together both broadcast and digital media, although broadcast media includes the big channels while digital news media channels are often small outfits run by one or two persons.”

It goes on to add, “Many clauses, particularly those relating to self-censorship, are completely impractical given the nature of small news media. Some dangerous clauses include the power to seize electronic devices including studio equipment. There are apprehensions that the Bill could muffle independent voices including those of YouTube journalists, news analysts and digital websites.”

As an alternative, the journalist outfits say such a Bill could wait till the formation of a common body like a Media Commission of India comprising experts and stakeholders who could look into all aspects of self regulation rather than inviting government control.

“Today there exists a wide spectrum media, ranging from print, broadcast, digital to TV and other media and it is not possible to regulate it through such measures. Instead, it is necessary to organise extensive consultations with all stakeholders, look into the common grievances’ and seek common solutions. Decisions made without democratic consultations could smack of authoritarianism.”

They allege that the Broadcast Bill “is being pushed in a hurry and could be yet another attempt to curb independent thinking, protest and dissent. It should be immediately rolled back.”

According to the statement, “the Bill is ominously, inexplicably silent on the concentration of media ownership in big corporate hands which is itself a big threat to freedom of expression and diversity of opinion”.


The Telecommunications Bill, 2023, passed by both houses of parliament, is another action to cement authoritarian control over the rights of ordinary citizens. Its impact will be felt directly in four clear ways. 

First, there is a clear power for the Union government to regulate and license OTT services such as WhatsApp, Signal, Gmail etc. Here, the unfounded hope and the underserved servility in statements that OTT regulation is excluded from the ambit of regulation of the Telecommunications Bill, 2023, is not borne out from its text. The Union government may prescribe licence conditions that may vary as per “telecommunication service” [Section 3(1)(a) and Section 3(1)(b)] and require prior registration that may be used for the government to weaken privacy and increase snooping in future. While the phrases “OTT”, “Messaging Services” or even “Email” are not expressly mentioned in the Telecommunications Bill as in the draft version, they at the same time have not been expressly excluded from the definition of “telecommunication service” which means, “any service for telecommunication” [Section 2(t)]. Further, the phrase, “telecommunication” is defined to include, “transmission… or reception of any messages…” Hence, internet-based messaging and email services are included.

by Apar Gupta


According to the draft amendment, any news that has been identified as “fake” or false by the Press Information Bureau’s fact-checking unit or other Union government agencies will have to be taken down by all social media platforms. 

The opposition parties have said that with this move, the Narendra Modi government wants to “silence its critics” through social and digital media platforms, which remain the last bastions to call its actions to account.

by Gaurav Vivek Bhatnagar


Three new legislations give the Union government power to censor news content, imperil encrypted communication, make it easier to shut down the internet, and intercept communications with minimal accountability. 

These views were put forth by leading experts at a meeting organised on December 20 by Digipub, which represents over 60 digital news media, independent journalists and commentators.

 These legislations include the Telecommunications Bill of 2023, the draft Broadcasting Services (Regulation) Bill of 2023, and the Digital Personal Data Protection Act of 2023. The Lok Sabha passed the Telecom Bill on December 20 and the Rajya Sabha on December 21, and it will become an Act after the President’s assent. 
Freedom to send to jail? Ravish Kumar Official Dec 23, 2023
Who will decide what is criticism of the government and what is criticism of the country? The Home Minister has said that you can criticize the government, but not the country. In the new criminal law, treason has been replaced with treason. Obviously, only the government will decide, its police will decide whether what you have written or said in criticism of the government is a criticism of the country. The concerns that people have regarding the Indian Justice Code, the Indian Civil Defense Code, the Indian Evidence Code, should not reach the people. Are not reaching. The speeches being given regarding this are being delivered and there is more emphasis on applause in the speeches. What is there in this law? What kind of concerns are being raised regarding this, the public does not yet know and will not.

 Twitter’s recent filings with a third party database reveals that the Union ministry of information and broadcasting directed the social media platform to censor 50 tweets carrying a link to the new BBC documentary about the 2002 Gujarat communal violence citing legal grounds. The ministry cited Rule 16(3) of the IT Rules [PDF] and Section 69(A) of IT Act, 2000 to ask for removal of the posts.