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The Union Government of India, on Wednesday, issued a gazette notification saying that it has brought all Over-The-Top (OTT) platforms under its regulation watchdog, the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting. The move has been passed concerning the fact that until now there were no laws or government bodies to regulate the digital content streamed over OTT platforms like Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hotstar, AltBalaji, MX Player and more.
The gazette was signed by the President of India, Ram Nath Kovind to bring digital content under the ambit of the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting.
According to various media sources, the government had indicated the need for monitoring the OTT content and list the Don’ts for platforms like Netflix and Hotstar. Back in January, 8 video streaming platforms had signed a self-regulatory code as outlined by the News Broadcasters Standard Authority. However, the code prohibited five types of content, which includes:
- Content that deliberately and maliciously disrespects the national emblem or national flag,
- Any visual or storyline that promotes child pornography,
- Any content that “maliciously” intends to outrage religious sentiments,
- Content that “deliberately and maliciously” promotes or encourages terrorism and,
- Any content that has been banned for exhibition or distribution by law or court.
But the government refused to support this code, thus brought I&B Ministry as the regulator for OTT platforms.
Speaking of the move by the government, Karan Bedi, CEO of MX Player, in a press statement said,
“We look forward to working with the ministry to implement our industry’s self-regulation efforts. As responsible content creators, we want to ensure this act not only takes cognisance of the nature of content being released, but also ensures that we safeguard creativity in this rapidly growing sector.”
As published on Economic Times, a Ministry official has stated,
“Enabling regulatory environment so that all digital players adhere to the laws of the land.”
“Some content on certain platforms has caused a lot of problems to the citizens of the country who don’t even have a grievance redressal platform. There have been at least 40 court cases where the government had to make an appearance. Courts have also urged the ministry to have a regulatory mechanism. We have been working on that with stakeholders,”
Kaushik Moitra, Partner at Bharucha & Partners, said,
“Self-regulation has historically been the best way forward in this sphere. This move will have to be weighed in light of Article 19 of the Constitution of India. If implemented without reasonable restrictions this can harm the journalistic and artistic freedom. One has to wait and watch how this regulation plays out in democratic India.”
Currently, print media is regulated by the Press Council of India, advertising is regulated by Advertising Standards Council of India, news channels are regulated by the News Broadcasters Association, and the films are regulated by the Central Board of Film Certification.