The Government has given 100 days to online platforms to develop mechanisms for self-regulation of adult entertainment and politically sensitive content. This means that Netflix, Amazon Prime, Zee5, MX Player, ALTBalaji, Hotstar, Voot, Jio, SonyLIV, and Arre are expected to censor their content according to the guidelines set by the authorities. According to reports, Information and Broadcasting Minister Prakash Javadekar held a 45-minute meeting in the National Capital on March 2 with the heads to nearly all OTT platforms and demanded a self-regulating mechanism for their content.
Sources of a national news outlet have revealed that Amazon Prime showcased displeasure with the government's new initiative. However, Netflix, Zee5, MX Player, and ALT Balaji have asked for more time to deliberate on the idea. An adjudicatory body was formed last month, Content Complaint Council (DCCC) and so far only Hotstar, Voot, Jio, SonyLIV, and Arre have signed up with it. DCCC is also the brainchild of the Internet and Mobile Association (IAMA) and the I&B Ministry.
A code of self-regulation for the over-the-top platforms was drafted by the IAMA on January 17, 2019, with title, “Code of Best Practices for Online Curated Content Providers”. These guidelines curb the online platforms from streaming content which is banned by Indian courts, disrespects the national emblem, outrages religious sentiments, promotes violence against the state, or depicts child pornography. According to reports, Javadekar had last met the OTT platform representatives in October and asked for suggestions in order to propose mutually agreeable terms.
A member present at the meeting told the national news outlet on the condition of anonymity that it was the 'first' structured meeting on 'self-regulation'. Furthermore, the same source said that government has made it clear for the OTT platforms that if they do not come on board with the new initiative, the authorities can 'always come up with legislation'.
According to reports, while the issue of self-regulation was discussed on March 2, Javadekar also cited the example of his own house where fire stick is used to watch content across the platforms. The I&B minister also referred to Indian households where at times the entire family watches content on OTT platforms and stressed on the need to regulate what can be watched together.
Moreover, since the password of the concerned platforms is shared among friends and knowns, segregation of the suitable content should be a priority. The government has reportedly said that it will avoid censorship of content and instead expects the companies to come up with better segregation and categorisation of content to reach out to age groups of all viewerships.