I&B ministry starts work on self-regulation law for OTT platforms, online news
The Narendra Modi Government decided to bring a law that will provide for self-regulation in digital media including Over-the-top (OTT) platforms and news websites. This was done inorder to address issues of sensitive video content and fake news. This month, the issue of self-regulation in digital media was taken up at the highest levels.
According to senior government official, the Ministry of Information and broadcasting decided to frame an overarching statute under which the digital media can self-regulate itself.
The official said, “Like the print media has the Press Council of India, films have the Central Board of Film Certification and TV channels are broadly regulated under The Cable Television Networks Regulation Act, the digital media which has been unregulated till now, will soon have an overarching regulation for redressal of complaints on content.”
Another official said that, the I&B ministry was conscious that the proposed legal regime should not curtail the freedom enjoyed by the sector and has been engaging with the Internet and Mobile Association of India for more than a year on self-regulation. The association is representing the interests of the OTT platforms.
Multinationals like Netflix and Amazon Prime are among 40 OTT platforms which will be regulated under the law. Similarly hundreds of news content websites will also come under this law.
Some of these platforms attract subscribers with free access to their content, while others give access only after annual subscription fees. In India the market of such OTT platforms is close to ₹1,000 crore with around 20 crore users.
It was felt that the self regulating mechanism is titled too heavily in favour of the OTT platforms. Moreover, like print and cable media have mechanisms to redress grievances, there is no such platforms for the digital media. So the I&B ministry will work on this issue as well.
The ministry got complaints against the adult content and language shown in OTT platforms, as the public felt that it sometimes borders on soft porn. Not only the OTT platforms but also there were complaints against single shop digital news websites as the public felt that they create discontent in society by indulging in fake news without any redressal or retraction.
Last year in November, the Central Government issued a notification which clearly said that the digital platforms will now be under the ambit of the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (“MIB”).