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No exemption to mainstream media from New IT Rules: Government

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All mainstream media, including print and electronic, will have to comply the provisions of IT Rules, 2021 with immediate effect without exemption as the government has refused to exempt them from the ambit of the new digital media rules.

Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (I&B) has said that the rationale for bringing the websites of the organisations under the ambit of the law is “well-reasoned”.

“Making any exception of the nature proposed will be discriminatory to the digital news publishers who do not have a traditional TV/print platform,” the ministry said in a clarification to digital news publishers, publishers of online curated content or OTT platforms and associations of digital media publishers.

The government’s clarification came as the National Broadcasters Association (NBA) had recently written to the I&B ministry urging it to “exempt and exclude” the traditional television news media and its extended presence on digital news platforms from the ambit of the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules 2021, saying they are already “sufficiently regulated” by various statutes, laws, guidelines, codes and regulations.

Noting that code of ethics requires such digital platforms to follow the exiting norms or content regulations, which are in vogue for the traditional print and TV media, the Ministry said, there is no additional regulatory burden for such entities.

Accordingly, it said, the request for exempting the digital news content of such organisations from the ambit of digital media rules 2021 cannot be acceded to.

“It does recognise that entities having traditional TV and print media are already registered with the government either under the Press and Registration Books Act or the Uplinking and Downlinking Guidelines of 2011.

“The digital version/digital publication of the organisations having traditional news platforms (TV and print) may be following internal guidelines of the self-regulatory bodies. Accordingly, if the organisations so desire, they can request the same self-regulatory bodies to serve as the Level II of the self-regulatory mechanism, after ensuring consistency with the Digital Media Rules, 2021,” said the Ministry.

The Ministry also clarified that when any news and current affairs content of a digital news publisher is transmitted on an OTT platform, such content would be outside the regulatory responsibility of that platform.

“However, if any OTT platform receives a grievance related to such news and current affairs, it may transfer the same to the publisher concerned of that content. Accordingly, there should not be any apprehension on this count either to the digital news publishers or to the OTT platforms,” it said. The ministry noted that the television news channels already have a self-regulatory mechanism in place to adjudicate grievances relating to the violation of the programme code under the Cable Television Network Act, 1995 and their internal codes or guidelines.

“The requirement of Level II under the Digital Media Rules, 2021 is only an extension of an existing institutional practice. Further, the composition of the self-regulating body would be decided entirely by the publishers and the government has no role to play,” the ministry said. “It is neither stipulated nor intended for the government to either interfere or obstruct the formation of the self-regulating body including its composition,” it added.

The ministry also dismissed the concerns that the oversight mechanism stipulated under the digital media rules would lead to excessive government control over the functioning of the digital news publishers and the OTT platforms.

“In this regard, it may be mentioned that even at present, in respect of the traditional TV channels, there is an oversight mechanism in the government by way of an inter-ministerial committee (IMC), which looks at certain grievances relating to the violation of the Programme Code, a mechanism which is in existence since 2005,” said the Ministry.

Over the last 15 years, the IMC has given recommendations by way of advisories, warnings etc in respect of a large number of cases involving the content of both news and non-news channels in relation to the Programme Code and in almost every such case, the TV channels have accepted the recommendations of the panel, the Ministry said.

“The IMC mechanism has stood the test of time. The concept of an inter-departmental committee (IDC) is similar.”

“Further, Level III is visualised as a residual level, in so far as the grievances which do not get addressed at the first and second levels would go to the IDC. Accordingly, the apprehension of excessive government control through these mechanisms is misplaced,” said the Ministry.

In the overall context, the Digital Media Rules, 2021 may be complied with by the digital news publishers and the OTT platforms without any misapprehensions, it added.

The Ministry further said that the publishers may furnish the requisite information in the prescribed format immediately, take urgent steps for appointing a grievance officer, if not done, and place all relevant details in the public domain, constitute self-regulatory bodies through mutual consultation so that the grievances are addressed at the level of publishers or the self-regulating bodies themselves.

It further added that over 500 publishers have already submitted their details in the requisite format.

Business

Prudent financial management helps Reliance Jio reduce running costs

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Reliance Jio Infocomm Limited prepaid entire deferred liabilities pertaining to spectrum acquired in auctions of year 2014, 2015, 2016 and the spectrum acquired in year 2021 through trading of right to use with Bharti Airtel Limited aggregating to Rs 30,791 crore (including accrued interest) in FY2021-22.

This was refinanced through a mix of INR Loans and Debentures. The Company expects that this prepayment will result in interest savings of about Rs 1,200 crore annually.

Reliance, a responsible organisation, leveraged its intellectual capital to contribute to the country’s fight against Covid-19.

Reliance’s scientists analysed more than 1,000 genomes of the virus.

The knowledge base was used to develop novel cost-effective diagnostic kits called ‘R-Green’ and ‘R-Green pro one’. These kits have received ICMR approval and showed a high degree of accuracy and specificity during validation studies.

Reliance has also collaborated with IIIM-CSIR (Jammu) to develop an RT-LAMP Kit to facilitate the point-of-care diagnosis of Covid-19.

The R&D team actively contributes to the company’s technical wisdom to facilitate innovation globally by publishing research articles on diagnostics and treatment. Application of natural-astaxanthin for COVID-19 management published in ‘Biomedicine and Pharmacotherapy’ journal is recognised as top 100 research paper. The paper is listed in WHO’s global repository.

PSA based oxygen concentrators can produce oxygen with 93 per cent (+- 3 per cent) purity. The unit is an excellent solution during hospitalisation situation due to Covid-19 to maintain the SpO2 level of a patient. Reliance R&D has designed oxygen generator with a purity of 90 per cent to 95 per cent with 5 LPM oxygen leveraging its expertise in adsorption technology.

Reliance collaborated with India’s CSIR-National Chemical Laboratory (CSIR-NCL) to recycle Covid-19 PPE waste. Useful products such as automotive components and flowerpots are being made from the recycled PPEs.

Reliance Industries Limited issued its Annual Report for FY22 on August 6. The company will be holding its Annual General Meeting on August 29.

Among other things, the RIL Annual Report mentioned about the progress made by all its business verticals viz. Retail, Digital Services, O2C and E&P, and spoke about RIL’s intentions in the Green Energy field.

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Business

India’s forex reserves rises after four weeks of fall

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India’s forex reserves rose around $2.4 billion during the week ending July 29, after falling for last four consecutive weeks, on back of positive inflows by foreign investors in the Indian equity market.

The country’s foreign exchange reserves rose by $2.315 billion to $573.875 billion during the week ending June 29, according to the Reserve Bank of India’s (RBI) weekly supplementary statistical data.

“India’s foreign exchange reserves, supplemented by net forward assets, provide insurance against global spillovers. Our umbrella remains strong,” RBI Governor Shaktikanta Das said. “The Reserve Bank has also used its foreign exchange reserves accumulated over the years to curb volatility in the exchange rate,” he added.

During the current financial year (up to August 4), the US dollar index (DXY) has appreciated by 8 per cent against a basket of major currencies. In this milieu, the Indian Rupee has moved in a relatively orderly fashion depreciating by 4.7 per cent against the US dollar during the same period – faring much better than several reserve currencies as well as many of its EME and Asian peers.

The depreciation of the Indian rupee is more on account of the appreciation of US dollar rather than weakness in macroeconomic fundamentals of the Indian economy.

“Market interventions by the RBI have helped in containing volatility and ensuring orderly movement of the rupee. We remain watchful and focused on maintaining stability of the Indian rupee,” Das added.

In July, foreign investors turned net buyers in the Indian equities nearly after 10 months, with an investment of around Rs 4,980 crore in the Indian equity markets. This comes heavy sell-off by these entities of around Rs 50,203 crore.

According to NSDL data, investment of foreign investors in July month stood at Rs 4,989 crore, as compared to over Rs 50,000 crore outflows in June, Rs 39,993 crore in May and Rs 17,144 crore in April.

The other central banks of Asia also used their foreign exchange reserves to defend their currency.

Despite the resultant drawdown, India’s foreign exchange reserves remain the fourth largest globally.

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Crack down on OPPO, Vivo, Xiaomi can push them to leave India: Chinese state media

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 For Chinese processing and manufacturing enterprises that originally tried to make India an overseas product-processing centre, if it is indeed increasingly difficult and unprofitable to operate in the country, then withdrawing from India is also an available option, state-run Global Times has said.

The Indian government is looking into cases of alleged tax evasion by three Chinese mobile companies — OPPO, Vivo India and Xiaomi.

“Frequent investigations by the Indian side into Chinese enterprises not only disrupt those companies’ normal business activities, but also impedes the improvement of business environment in India and chills the confidence and willingness of market entities, especially Chinese enterprises, to invest and operate in India,” read a commentary in the publication.

Since April 2020, out of 382 foreign direct investment (FDI) proposals the central government received from Chinese firms, India approved only 80 as on June 29.

“The number presents the increasingly difficult business environment facing Chinese investment and companies doing business in India,” the report said.

Some manufacturers have turned their eyes to Southeast Asian countries such as Vietnam after withdrawing from India.

“Faced with competition from Vietnam, India should no longer set obstacles for its manufacturing development, and should stop carrying out crackdown on Chinese investment,” the report added.

Despite the Covid-19 pandemic, the China-India trade is on course to cross $100 billion for the second consecutive year as it has gone up to $67.1 billion in the first half of 2022.

“Hopefully India can provide a fair and non-discriminatory business environment for Chinese investors, which will be mutually beneficial to both Chinese enterprises and India’s manufacturing ambitions,” the commentary read.

OPPO India, Xiaomi India and Vivo India were served notices by the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) for duty evasion, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman informed the Rajya Sabha this week.

A show-cause notice demanding Rs 4,403.88 crore has been served to OPPO Mobiles India Ltd based on an investigation conducted by the DRI, while five cases of Customs duty evasion have been registered against Xiaomi Technology India, Sitharaman said in a written reply.

The DRI detected customs duty evasion of around Rs 2,217 crore by Vivo Mobile India Private Ltd.

A show-cause notice has been issued to Vivo India demanding customs duty amounting to Rs 2,217 crore, under the provisions of the Customs Act.

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