The Office of the Registrar of Newspapers for India (RNI) is a statutory body, which came into existence on 1st July 1956 by amending the Press and Registration of Books (PRB) Act 1867. Some of the responsibilities entrusted with RNI include compilation and maintenance of a Register of Newspapers, issue of Certificate of Registration to the newspapers (RNI Registration), scrutiny and analysis of annual statements sent by the publishers of newspapers, ensuring newspaper published are in accordance with the Press and Registration of Books Act, verifying circulation claims and other non-statutory functions. In this article, we look at the procedure for obtaining RNI Registration in India for publications.
Printing and publishing of newspapers and periodicals within India are governed by the Press and Registration of Books Act, 1867, and the Registration of Newspapers (Central) Rules, 1956. As per the rules, no newspaper or periodical should bear a title which is the same or similar to any other newspaper or periodical already being published, either in the same language or in the same State, unless the latter is also owned by the same person. In order to ensure compliance, the Government of India has appointed the Registrar of Newspapers, also called the Press Registrar, who maintains a register of newspapers and periodicals published in India. Therefore, in order to start a newspaper or periodical or printed publication in India, RNI Registration from the Registrar of Newspapers is essential. RNI Registration cannot be obtained for news agencies, feature agencies, coaching material, and electronic versions of publications.
Procedure for obtaining RNI Registration – Title Verification
The procedure for obtaining RNI Registration has two steps: verification of the availability of title and registration of title. For verification of the availability of a title, submit an application to the concerned authority in the requisite format for verification of title. The application must contain information such as the name of the owner, language, periodicity, state, district, title options (up to 5 title options can be provided), and meaning of the titles.
If the registrar approves, then the owner of the publication can obtain the title verification letter by the Registrar of Newspaper. After obtaining the verification of title, the owner of the publication can file for registration of title within 2 years of the date of the issue of verification of title letter. After getting the verification, also get the registration of title in the same name, as the ownership of the verification title is non-transferable before registration.
RNI Registration CANNOT be obtained for:
RNI Registration or RNI Title Verification cannot be obtained for the following:
- Titles same or similar to a well-known Foreign Title in any language may not be verified until a valid license agreement with the foreign title owner is produced.
- Newspapers and publications must mainly contain news or articles or opinions or views. Therefore, titles that contain words like such as advertisements, ads, classified, tender, calendar, panchang, matrimonial, yellow pages, or directory may not be approved.
- Titles that contain the word book or channel or gazette would not be approved. Also, titles having words same or similar to name of government scheme, government organization, foreign government organization, institutions, prominent titles, prominent trademarks, prominent brands, landmarks, and prominent personalities shall not be verified as these may mislead public or exploit/misuse the name of the scheme/organization/institution/person and may also violate trademark and copyright Acts.
- Titles may also not be allotted if they make use of any kind of words sounding absurd or meaningless, have religious overtones, contain obscene language, offends public sense, contains negative connotations, or any other object which is not in public interest/taste.
- Titles that are similar to an existing title will also not be approved. In case of any doubt regarding the test of similarity, the decision of the Press Registrar will be final.
Procedure for obtaining RNI Registration – First Publication
To obtain RNI Registration, after obtaining verification of title, the owner of the publication must file an Authentication of Declaration with the concerned authority in the prescribed format. The owner must then proceed with the publication of the first issue. Under section 5 (5) of PRB Act 1867, volume/year-1 issue-1 should be brought within 42 days of authentication of declaration, if periodicity is daily or weekly. If periodicity is fortnightly or above, volume/year-1 issue-1 should be brought out within 90 days of authentication of declaration. In case volume-1 issue-1 is not brought out within the required time period, a revised declaration should be filed, and volume-1 issue-1 should be brought out within the required period from the date of authentication of revised declaration.
First Publication – Compliances for RNI Registration
The following are compliances the first publication or issue must comply with:
- Print the publication in the press mentioned in the declaration and should primarily contain news/views/articles etc.
- To ensure distinctiveness of the title, it should be displayed in the masthead, as verified and should not resemble/imitate any existing title. Display title in uniform font/letter size in the masthead of the publication. The difference in font/letter size should not be more than 25%. The title shall be displayed either horizontally or vertically. In the case of bilingual/multilingual publications, the title in the masthead should be displayed in any one of the languages of publication. Periodicity should not be mentioned along with the title in the masthead if it is not part of the verified title. If the title displayed in the masthead is in a language other than English or Hindi, the same should also be displayed in English/Hindi (it should be as verified and not a translation, and it can be in smaller font size).
- The masthead should also carry dateline containing volume and issue number, date/month/year, periodicity, price, and publication city, in the language of publication, and also in English/Hindi in case of publications in languages other than English and Hindi.
- Each page should display the title, page number, and date/month/year of publication.
- Print the imprint line legibly as “Printed by, Published by, on behalf of (name of owner), Printed at( name and complete address of printing press), published from, complete address of the place of publication and Editor name. The name of the Editor given in the imprint line should be the same as mentioned in the declaration. Do not mention Editor-in-chief, Sub Editor, Chief Editor, Resident Editor, etc. as a part of the imprint line.
- As per section 3 of the PRB Act 1867, the imprint line should be legible. Hence, the font size and placement of the imprint line should be such that it is legible and clearly visible. The is no specific place for the imprint line; however, it prefers the bottom of page 3 or 7last page of the publication so that it can be easily located.
Procedure for obtaining RNI Registration – Obtaining RNI Registration
On publishing the first issue, submit the title verification letter, authentication of declaration, copy of a first publication, printer agreement and application for RNI Registration to the concerned authority to obtain RNI Registration and RNI Certificate.