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Centre To Release OTT Platform Guidelines; Tentative Rules For Netflix, Hotstar & Co Here

Republic TV sources have accessed tentative guidelines which might be a part of the ones announced by Union Ministers Prakash Javadekar & Ravi Shankar Prasad

OTT regulations

Update: Guidelines have since been released for social media, digital media and OTT platforms. Here's a readout:

Information Technology (intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code), Rules, 2021 by Republic on Scribd

Union Ministers Prakash Javadekar and Ravi Shankar Prasad will hold a press conference at National Media Centre in New Delhi at 2 pm on Thursday. The ministers are likely to announce the guidelines for regulation of OTT (Over The Top) platforms. There are at least 40 OTT platforms, including global ones such as Netflix, Amazon Prime and HotStar (Disney Plus), and hundreds of news content websites.

Republic Media Network sources have accessed the tentative guidelines which might be a part of the ones announced by  Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad and I&B Minister Prakash Javadekar.

  1. The intermediary (platform) shall prominently publish on its website or application or both, as the case may be, the rules and regulations, privacy policy and user agreement for access or usage of its computer resource by any person;
  2. The rules and regulations, privacy policy or user agreement of the intermediary shall inform the user of computer resource not to host, display, upload, modify, publish, transmit, store, update or share any information that:
  • belongs to another person and to which the user does not have any right;
  • is defamatory, obscene, pornographic, paedophilic, invasive of another’s privacy, including bodily privacy, insulting or harassing on the basis of gender, libellous, racially or ethnically objectionable, relating or encouraging money laundering or gambling, or otherwise inconsistent with or contrary to the laws of India;
  • is harmful to minors,
  • infringes any patent, trademark, copyright or other proprietary rights:
  • violates any law for the time being in force;
  • deceives or misleads the addressee about the origin of the message or knowingly and intentionally communicates any information which is patently false or misleading in nature but may reasonably be perceived as a fact.

Earlier this month, Prakash Javadekar had said a lot of suggestions and complaints on the regulation of OTTs have been received. "Guidelines and direction are almost ready. It will be soon implemented," he said in his brief submission, in the Rajya Sabha.

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'Contemplating some action on regulating OTT platforms'

The Centre also told the Supreme Court that it was contemplating "some action" on the issue of regulating OTT platforms such as Netflix and Amazon Prime. A bench comprising Chief Justice S A Bobde and Justices A S Bopanna and V Ramasubramanian, which was initially of the view that the petitioner should approach the government for the remedy, asked the government to file its response within six weeks to the PIL seeking OTT regulation by an autonomous body. 

At the outset, Additional Solicitor General KM Nataraj said the Centre was contemplating some action on the issue of regulating OTT platforms. The CJI sought to know from Nataraj as to what would be the action from the government and asked him to file the response in six weeks while tagging the matter with the pending petition.

The top court had on October 15 last year issued notices to the central government, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting and Internet and Mobile Association of India. The plea filed by advocates Shashank Shekhar Jha and Apurva Arhatia also sought a proper board/institution /association for the monitoring and management of content on different OTT/Streaming and digital media platforms.

OTT platforms and Online News brought under I&B Ministry

In November, the Government of India had published a gazette notification bringing online films, audio-visual programmes and online news and current affairs content under the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting. According to a notification issued by the Cabinet Secretariat on November 9 which has been signed by the President, the content made available by online providers such as Netflix, Amazon, Hotstar etc will also come under the ministry. 

With this, the I&B Ministry was given power to regulate policies related to news, audio, visual contents and films available on online platforms.

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(with PTI inputs)

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