· Govt. to govern OTT platforms- The Hindu- 12th November
· Govt brings digital news, OTT platforms under I&B’s watch- The Indian Express- 12t h November
(GS 2- Governance; GS 4- Ethics in Media)
· Moving to bring within its purview all digital platforms that can be accessed in India, the Government has ordered that online media, including entertainment, film and news platforms, will now come under the Union Ministry of Information and Broadcasting.
· In a gazette notification issued on Wednesday and signed by the President Ram Nath Kovind, online films, digital news and current affairs content now come under the purview of the I&B Ministry.
· The central government has brought “Over the Top” (OTT) platforms or video streaming service providers like Netflix, Amazon Prime and others under the ambit of Ministry of Information and Broadcasting.
· This will give the government control over the OTT platforms.
· The notification also says that government regulations would also apply to news on social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
· However, the Ministry has remained tight-lipped on exactly what is in store for digital news media and OTT platforms.
Status till Now
· Until now, OTT platforms which streamed digitally, fell under the domain of Information & Technology Ministry.
· Online content providers, such as Netflix, Amazon and Hotstar, and news platforms, come under the legal framework of the Information Technology Act, 2000.
· Currently, there is no autonomous body governing digital content.
· At present, the Press Council of India looks after print media; the News Broadcasters Association (NBA) takes care of the TV news channels; the Advertising Standards Council of India is for advertising; while the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) monitors films.
Monitoring OTT Platforms
· From time to time, the government had indicated the necessity to monitor these platforms.
· In October last year, the government had indicated that it would issue a “negative” list of don’ts for video streaming services like Netflix and Hotstar.
· It also wanted the platforms to come up with a self-regulatory body on the lines of the News Broadcasting Standards Authority.
Self- Regulatory Code by OTTs in January 2019
· Anticipating the government’s intervention in January 2019, eight video streaming services had signed a self-regulatory code that laid down a set of guiding principles for the content on these platforms.
· The code prohibited five types of content, including content which deliberately and maliciously disrespects the national emblem or flag and any visuals or story lines that promotes child pornography.
· Other prohibited content includes any content that “maliciously” intends to outrage religious sentiments; content that “deliberately and maliciously” promotes or encourages terrorism; and lastly, any content that has been banned for exhibition or distribution by law or by a court.
· The government, however, refused to support this code.
Need for Regulating OTT Platforms
· With the growth of the digital media and a significant shift of viewership from traditional media platforms to digital media, there is a real need for having an appropriate oversight framework for online news, at par with traditional media platforms.
· With 560 million Internet users in India and the pervasiveness of mobile phones, there is a felt need for regulating such content as per the government.