Priya Ranjan Dasmunsi, the Union minister for information and broadcasting in the United Progressive Alliance government, gave his approval last week for providing Press Information Bureau accreditation to journalists working for major news web sites in India.
PIB accreditation grants journalists official access to government offices and events like ministerrial press conferences among other privileges.
Rediff.com, a pioneer in the field of providing news online, led other media organisations in putting up a strong case before the I&B ministry through Principal Information Officer Deepak Sandhu.
"We made a strong recommendation for providing accreditation to web journalists as early as January 2006 along with increasing the quota of accreditation to print and television scribes. Many European countries and the United Nations had been looking at us to take the first step so that others could follow," Mrs Sandhu told rediff.com She praised her colleagues who worked hard to evolve the accreditation guidelines for web sites.
For a web site to be considered for accreditation, at least one-third of its content must consist of news and it should be updated at least six times a day. It also has to have been in existence for over a year, and must have at least 10,000 pageviews a day.
Also, its domain name should be registered for at least five years from the date of application, and its annual turnover should not be less than Rs 2.5 crore (Rs 25 million).
'In the event a web site/portal is found involved in any activity perceived as cyber-crime now or in the future, its accreditation will be withdrawn,' the guidelines warn.
The Press Information Bureau also plans to provide visual support for web sites that take to webcasting and will provide accreditation to their camerapersons. "We are already doing dry-runs and by next month, we should be able to provide visual support free of cost to web sites along with some exclusive bites," Mrs Sandhu added.