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What is Registrar of Newspapers for India (RNI)?

Established on 1st July 1956, Registrar of Newspapers for India (RNI), also at times known as Office of the Registrar of the Newspapers for India is a Government of India statutory body of Ministry of Information and Broadcasting. Headquartered in New Delhi, RNI has got its five regional offices based at Kolkata, Mumbai, Chennai, Bhopal and Guwahati. Governed by the Press and Registration of Books Act, which states that no newspaper or periodical should carry a heading similar to any other newspaper or periodical already published either in same or any other language, unless it is governed by the same person or organization, RNI has to perform certain set of duties and functions such as:

Statutory duties of the Registrar of Newspapers for India (RNI)

  1. Issuing of Certificate of Registration to the newspapers published under valid declaration;
  2. Providing information to the district magistrates regarding availability of titles to the intending publishers;
  3. To ensure that the newspapers are published as per the guidelines of PRB Act 1867;
  4. To compile and maintain a Register of Newspapers containing particular s about all the newspapers published;
  5. To analyze and scrutinize information and annual statements shared by all the publishers regarding information on circulation, ownership etc. This is done as per PRB Act.
  6. Verification of circulation claims produced by the publishers as a part of their annual claim; same is done under Section 19-F of PRB Act;
  7. Compilation and submission of a report with all relevant information and statistics about the press in India to the Government on or before 31st December every year.

Apart from the above mentioned statutory duties of the RNI, the Press and Registration of Books Act also lists down certain non-statutory functions of the RNI.

Non-Statutory functions of the Registrar of Newspapers for India (RNI)

  1. Formulation of newsprint allocation policy – guidelines and issue of eligibility certificate in order to import newsprint and to procure indigenous newsprint;
  2. To assess and certify the essential need and requirement of newspaper establishments in order to import printing and composing machinery and allied materials.

RNI Registration – Process, Certificate, Status And Form

It is a given fact that the newspaper industry is growing at a remarkable pace and where on one side, we all are struck by social media, on the other side there is hardly any house where morning tea is not enjoyed with the newspaper and if I have to quote Arun Jaitley (Minister of Finance and Corporate Affairs) : “Newspapers provide more clarity to readers who are confused and are in search of facts after viewing “shrill debates” on TV channel and if statistics have to be believed then newspaper industry saw a rise of advertising revenue by 40% in the year 2014-15.

Indian government has always encouraged growth and promotion of newspaper industry irrespective of the party which is in power and just provides you an opportunity to start your newspaper or periodical if you wish to, however in order to do so, you would need to abide by certain sets of legal compliance from Registrar of Newspapers of India so in nutshell, if anybody who is willing to start a newspaper or magazine or journals etc will have to acquire prior approval of RNI.

As of 31st March 2016, there are approximately 1,10,851 publications which are registered with RNI of India and that makes India as the second largest newspaper market in the world with over 100 million copies of newspapers sold on a daily basis where hindi language publications having the largest circulation. Famous daily newspapers like Dainik Jagran, Amar Ujala have a daily circulation of above 3,000,000 whereas their English counterparts like Times of India, The Hindustan Times have a daily circulation of approx 3,140,000.

How To Get Registered With RNI?

As per the guidelines of the Press and Registration of Books Act, registration with RNI involves two steps, i.e.

  1. Verification of title
  2. Registration of title

Verification of title

Once you have decided on a title for your proposed newspaper, you need to get the same verified by the RNI office in order to check if the same has already been taken or proposed by someone else or if your desired title falls under prohibited list of titles i.e. as per the Act, you cannot use or propose below mentioned titles for your proposed newspaper:

  1. Book
  2. Channel
  3. Gazette
  4. Abbreviation of words
  5. Religious overtones
  6. Obscene or offending to public sense
  7. Negative connotations or symbols
  8. Absurd or meaningless words
  9. Name of prominent national leaders
  10. Name same or similar to any national emblem
  11. Any other name which may not be in public interest/taste
  12. Heads of the government functionary.

Registration of title

If you want to start your own newspaper then you have to register with the RNI of India because you cannot start a newspaper without getting its title i.e. name of the proposed newspaper or periodical, checked and verified from the RNI of India either online or offline.

In order to get the verification done, you need to follow below mentioned steps, such as:

  • Firstly, you need to submit an application for the title verification mentioning the name, language you intend to publish it in, periodicity, name of the owner and place of publication and submit the same. If you have opted for online option, then you can go to the RNI website and submit the verification application process over there, however in offline case, you need to submit your application to the concerned District Magistrate/District Collector office.
  • Once your application is received by the District Magistrate, he/she will go through the same and verify the mentioned credentials and if everything is in place, then your application will be forwarded to the RNI office, which in turn will inform both the District Magistrate and the publisher by issuing a letter of verification. You can also check the status of your application on RNI website. Once the verification of title is done, you as a publisher need to make a declaration within 2 years of time and in case you fail to do so within mentioned time period, then your title no longer belongs to you and anyone can opt for the same. Also, once the declaration is made, you need to publish the very first issue of your newspaper within 45 days in case if it is a daily or weekly and within 90 days if it is a periodical and first issue of the newspaper should have following information:
    • Declaration from the printer and publisher, however if both are one person then one declaration would suffice.
    • Title, volume number and issue number. This needs to be displayed prominently on the cover as well as all pages.
    • Page number, date line and an imprint line with the name of publisher, printer, editor, owner, address of the place of publication and name and address of the printing press.
  • Once RNI issues letter of verification, your next step is to submit application of registration to the RNI office along with the supporting documents namely attested copy of the verification, a copy of the declaration, the first issue of the newspaper and an affidavit affirming no foreign tie-up.
  • Along with the application of registration, you need to submit the following supporting documents and details such as:
    • Copy of the Title Verification Letter;
    • Notorized affidavit of No Foreign Tie-Up.
    • Copy of the latest issue of publication.
    • Copy of the title verification letter.
    • Attested copy of the declaration duly authenticated by the District Magistrate or Additional District Magistrate.
    • Copy of the first issue of publication which is brought out within 42 days if it’s a weekly publication and 90 days in case of periodicals.
    • PAN Card of the organization.
    • Copy of Board Resolution in case of a company.
    • ID and address proof of all partners, directors and proprietors.
    • Articles of Association or Certificate of Incorporation.
    • Mobile No and email id.
  • Once you have registered your newspaper with the RNI, you need to ensure that you have done the formalities after the registration i.e. whenever first issue of the newspaper is published, it need to be submitted at the RNI office. Also in case the first issue is published after the last day of February, then along with the first issue, a duly signed Form no IV should also be submitted at the RNI office. Apart from the above mentioned documents, it is mandatory to submit an annual statement in form II on or before 31st May every year.
  • In case there is any change in any of the information submitted at the RNI office, such as publisher, printer, owner(s), periodicity of the newspaper, printing press, a fresh declaration needs to be submitted by the printer or publisher.
  • And in case you wish to start your own magazine rather than a newspaper, you need to follow the same steps as listed above because you would first need to get its title verified and then registered with the RNI before you publish its very first issue.

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