Why Censorship and Regularization of the OTT Platforms? – 2020

OTT platforms have witnessed the drastic increase in its popularity and usage in the past few years. Above all, the outbreak of this pandemic; coronavirus (Covid – 19) pumped up the popularity and its consumers; pushing it up to a whole new level. But Why Censorship and Regularization of the OTT Platforms? (Source: Who.Int)

At present, everyone loves to indulge in online streaming regardless of their age; be it millennial, adults or oldies. But, imagine your favorite OTT platforms come under the control of the government? Or the government takes the charge to regularize these sites? What would be your reaction? Yes, this is exactly what is happening. The regularization of the OTT Platforms has been decided and the notification is also released. Why Censorship and Regularization of the OTT Platforms?

The Union Government announced the decision to regularize the online portals. This means that the OTT platforms will now be under the control of the Information and Broadcasting Ministry(MIB).

Why Censorship and Regularization of the OTT Platforms?
Why Censorship and Regularization of the OTT Platforms? (Pic Credit: TheWeek)

The platforms include the online news portals and entertainment sites like #Netflix (NETFLIX),  #Amazonprime (AMAZON PRIME),  #Zee5 (ZEE5),  #Disney+Hotstar (DISNEY+ HOTSTAR), #ALTBalaji (ALTBalaji), #MX Player (MX Player) and #Sony LIV (Sony LIV) and so on. According to this decision, The Information and Broadcasting Ministry will have the authority to draft rules and regulations. And also, have the sole power over the same. 

Know WHAT IS AN OTT PLATFORM?

Why Censorship and Regularization of the OTT Platforms? – Government’s perspective

In October, 2019 the government gave a hint that it may come up with some restrictions for the content on the OTT Platforms like Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and so on. The Government also asked the platforms to come up with a self-regulatory body. But Why Censorship and Regularization of the OTT Platforms?

In September, 15 OTT Platforms like Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Zee5, Viacom18, Disney+ Hotstar, MX Player, Jio Cinema, Eros Now, Alt Balaji, Arre and so on came up with a self-regulatory code. This self-regulatory code was signed under Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI). This code laid some of the guidelines to keep a check on the content that is streamed online. Some of the guidelines include:

  • Principles on prohibited and age sensitive content
  • Categorization of content with proper description and disclaimers
  • Complaint redressal

However, the Information & Broadcasting Ministry rejected this code. And finally, released the notification to take up the authority to regularize the online streaming platforms under the I&B Ministry, headed by the I&B Minister Prakash Javadekar.

Censored - Why Censorship and Regularization of the OTT Platforms?
Censorship and Regularization of the OTT Platforms (Source: EconomicTimes)

This new code is known as the “Universal Self-Regulation Code for OCCPs” (Online Curated Content Providers). (Source: TheQuint)

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Why Censorship and Regularization of the OTT Platforms?

This Notification to regulate and govern the online streaming services was released on 9th November, 2020. This regularization has been made to govern and look after the content available digitally. Until now, there was no autonomous body to do the same. On the other hand, there are organizations to look after the print and the films. (Source: IndiaLegalLive)

And they are The Press Council of India for the former and Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) for the latter. In addition, if we talk about advertising and the news channels, we have the Advertising Standards Council of India and News Broadcasters Association (NBA) for both respectively. (Source: IndianExpress)

The sole purpose of this decision is to keep the check on the content as only the OTT platforms did not have a governing body. Also, there was no law either. For instance, the TV programming comes under Cable Television Network Rules, 1994. There is the Cinematograph Act, 1952 and the censorship for films.  Press and Registration of Books (PRB) Act [Source: TheBasicStructure], Press Laws and Media Ethics for print and the media. (Source: MIB)

Regularization of the OTT Platforms (Source: LegalEra)

Therefore, there was a need for the regularization of the OTT Platforms to make it more systematized and have control over content. In short, What is available to whom and Why Censorship and Regularization of the OTT Platforms?

However, the government has not yet released a defined set of guidelines for the decision for the Regularization of the OTT Platforms.

The Reactions – Why Censorship and Regularization of the OTT Platforms?

The decision for the Regularization of the OTT Platforms was somewhere expected as the government has been giving hints for a while now. However, the decisions got a mixed review from the netizens. Some support the decision and say that this is a good step. On the other hand, some react in a negative way opposing the decision. (Source: MoneyControl)

We have mentioned some tweets below.

Tweet from P. Siddharth on Censorship
Tweet from Ananthakrishnan H on Censorship
Tweet response to Anuj kr hembrom by Vedant Rusty
Tweet from Chetan Chauhan on Censorship
Tweet response from Sohit Mishra to Bar & Bench on Censorship
Tweet response from Sravni to Live Law on Censorship
Tweet response from Ajay Iyer to Shriranga on Censorship
Tweet response from Swati Goel Sharma to Vasudha Venugopal on Censorship

Still the question remains, Why Censorship and Regularization of the OTT Platforms?

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