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OTT platforms now under government regulation

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In a gazette notification issued on Wednesday and signed by President Ram Nath Kovind, all online mediums, including films and news content, have been brought under the ministry of information and broadcasting by the government. Over-The-Top (OTT) platforms, or video streaming service providers such as Netflix, Amazon Prime and others, will now be regulated by the Union ministry headed by Prakash Javadekar.

At present, the Press Council of India regulates the print media, the News Broadcasters Association (NBA) represents the news channels, the Advertising Standards Council of India regulates advertising, while the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) monitors films. But there is no law or autonomous body governing digital content or Over-The-Top (OTT) platforms.

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This happened after the Supreme Court sought the Centre’s response on a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) that stated that digital content on these platforms is made available to the public without any major filter or screening. It sought to regulate OTT platforms such as Netflix and Amazon Prime Video by an autonomous body.

The government wanted the platforms to come up with a self-regulatory body on the lines of the News Broadcasting Standards Authority. None of the OTT/streaming platforms including Netflix, Amazon Prime, Zee5, and Hotstar have signed the self-regulation provided by the I&B ministry since February 2020, the plea had alleged.

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Just over two weeks ago, Prakash Javadekar had hinted that the government could regulate online platforms. But, the ministry has still not specified what this notification would mean. The implications of this order are yet not clear.

 

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