Finally!! Online Content providers, social sites and OTT platforms to be regulated - Censorship on OTT likely

Finally!! Online Content providers, social sites and OTT platforms to be regulated - Censorship on OTT likely

Amendments will ensure that fake and illicit digital content is regulated and punished through law. OTT platforms may be permitted to release webseries and movies only after approval from a Censor Board.

Finally!! Online Content providers, social sites and OTT platforms to be regulated - Censorship on OTT likely
  • 10 members committee will submit draft guidelines
  • Online content code in line with TV Content Program Code
  • Online content monitoring wing will be setup under the Electronic Media Monitoring Center

In a much awaited move and laying to rest plenty of ambiguity in the regulation on online content providers as well as self-censored OTT platforms, the government has issued a notification brining them all under the regulatory umbrella.

Digital News media, online content providers, Netfliz, Amazon Prime, Hotstar DFisney+, etc will be regulated by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting.

As per the gazette notification, digital and online media as well as online news and current affairs content will be brought under the purview of the Information and Broadcasting Ministry. This will also allow for bring the OTT platforms under the Censor Board.

The amendment to the Government of India (Allocation of Business) Rules 1961, now includes “Movies and Audio-Visual projects made accessible by online substance suppliers’ just as ‘News and Current undertakings content on online stages’ too.

As per a report, the OTT platforms commanded a Rs 500 crore revenue till March 2019, which is expected to reach a whooping Rs 5000 Crore by 2025.

The government will now draft strategies for OTT stages and computerized media similar to that for TV and print media. Computerized news will now come under production control rules.

There has been no regulator for online content, whereas Print, TV, Advertising and movies content was under the purview of Press Council, NBA, ASCI and CBFC respectively.

Though there is no clarity on what this move might mean for the OTT platforms and digital news media in terms of censorship, it is likely that the content on the streaming sites could be brought under Censor Board – this would be cumbersome, as most platforms do not upload content from India.

How will the regulations be drafted

A 10 member committee comprising of prominent individuals from the central secretariat, Press Council of India, National Broadcasting Agency and IBA will be formed to draft the regulations.

Online content code will be drafted on the basis of the current TV Content Program Code. An online content monitoring wing will be incorporated under the Electronic Media Monitoring Centre. Each content related to current affairs will be under the scanner then on.

Supreme Court had last month sought the Centre’s response on a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) for regulating OTT platforms such as Netflix and Amazon Prime Video by an autonomous body. The PIL stated that digital content on these platforms is made available to the public at large without any filter or screening.

Earlier in January 2019, nine of the web based features, including Zee5, Viacom18, Disney+Hotstar, Amazon Prime, Netflix, MX Player, Jio Cinema, Eroz Now, etc had declared a self-guideline code. This was done as an offer to not be controlled by the administration. This code sets up rules for characterization, content portrayal, etc. This however did not go down well with Ministry of Information and Broadcasting and kept in touch with the IAMAI saying that the code did not have a rundown on disallowed content.

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