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Government doubles down on OTT platforms, imposes self-regulation under ministry oversight

The Union government will also create a portal for the registration of complaints against offensive content on such platforms.

Our Correspondent

OTT platforms such as Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and Zee5 have been compelled to implement strict self-regulation, which will be monitored by a panel of experts appointed by the Union ministry of information & broadcasting.

The ministry, on Thursday, approved a self-regulation code as part of the draft of the Information Technology (Guidelines for Intermediaries and Digital Media Ethics Codes) Rules 2021

The guidelines are similar to the ones in place for the television and broadcasting industry, which are overseen by a self-appointed body under the government of India. While OTT platforms had come together under the aegis of the IAMAI (Internet and Mobile Association of India) to create a self-regulation code, the rules put in place by the ministry will supersede them.

The ministry has instituted a three-tier model of regulation, with the information & broadcasting ministry holding complete oversight. They will function on the basis of self-regulation, self-regulation by an independent body, and oversight by the ministry. 

The new rules suggest that an independent body of members from the media, broadcasting and entertainment industry, headed by a retired Supreme Court judge, will oversee matters of content and redressal. These members will be appointed by the ministry. The body has been given powers to monitor, censor, and reprimand content platforms. 

The Central government will also create a grievance portal for the registration of complaints against offensive content on OTT platforms.

Platforms have also been asked to segregate content with warnings on the basis of age, context, theme, tone and impact. The classifications include U, U/A7+, U/A13+, U/A16+ and Adult. OTTs have also been asked to ''exercise caution'' with content featuring the activities, beliefs and practices of any racial or religious group. 

It is not yet known if the makers of films that are certified by the Central Board of Film Certification can apply the same certification guidelines for OTT platforms as well.

The rules come in the wake of controversies surrounding the Amazon Prime series Tandav, and Mirzapur.

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