Netflix and Sony Liv are the only two streaming platforms currently fully compliant with the Government of India’s new information technology rules (2021) for online intermediaries, streaming services and online news. This was the result of an analysis by MediaNama. While the new rules were released in February and streaming services were expected to be compliant with immediate effect, several industry sources told MediaNama that the government had informally set a deadline of three months. Hence, they were expected to be compliant in a week by May 25, 2021.
I&B Minister Prakash Javadekar initially pushed back the demands of the OTT players for a long time and said: “If you can’t keep up, who can?” reported by Forbes India. However, in discussions with members of the Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI), the ministry said it could take three months for the industry to meet the requirements, three industry sources told MediaNama on condition of anonymity. A spokesman for Hoichoi, a streaming platform, confirmed the May 25 deadline in an email to MediaNama.
It’s worth noting that this new deadline seems unofficial. We asked IAMAI and the Ministry to comment on the deadline.
While streaming services have not indicated that they intend to legally challenge these rules, they have raised concerns that the deadlines may not be reasonable. In April, IAMAI asked the ministry for a one-year extension for streaming platforms to implement parental controls.
What the law requires
The Information Technology Rules (Intermediate Guidelines and Code of Ethics for Digital Media), 2021 Streaming companies must do the following:
i) appoint a Complaints Officer residing in India;
ii) have a Mechanism to resolve complaints for injured viewers;
iii) Follow standardized age ratings for content (U, U / A 7+, U / A 13+, U / A 16+ and A.);
iv) show Content descriptions for shows and movies that contain things like violence, nudity, drug use, etc; and
v) set up parental controls restrict children’s access to mature content.
n addition, the rules require streaming services for:
- Be part of a self-regulatory body; Such an organization has not yet been announced.
- Registration with the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting;
- and avoid posting illegal content.
Analysis: Most streaming services are not compliant
MediaNama examined the websites of the 17 most important streaming services in India and whether they had met the requirements of the new IT rules. MediaNama dealt specifically with the streaming services, which had appointed a complaints officer and set up a complaints portal from May 17, one week before the deadline. We haven’t looked at other legal requirements that need to be in place, such as joining a self-regulatory organization as mandated by the government under the new IT rules.
For the purposes of this analysis, government standard age ratings are systems with the five age ratings described above.
- Netflix has listed a complaints officer, has one Mechanism to resolve complaints for India has Age ratings that meet government standards, have content descriptions for mature content, and have parental controls in place. The company declined to comment on the story.
- Amazon Prime Video has not published a complaints officer on its website and does not have a mechanism for resolving complaints as described in the rules. However, Prime Video has age ratings, content descriptions, and a parental control mechanism. The company declined to comment on the story.
- Disney + hot star has a complainant, grievance mechanism, and age ratings. However, the age ratings do not conform to the government’s five-tier standard. While Hotstar has content descriptions for some content, it does not have parental controls and currently has a “Children” section of the service. The company has not returned a request for comment.
- ZEE5 has no complainant but has age ratings and a grievance mechanism. The ratings do not meet government standards. Content descriptions and parental controls are available on the platform. The company did not respond to a request for comment.
- Sony LIV has a Grievance mechanism and a complainant listed in a document hosted on its website. It has age ratings that meet government standards and content descriptions as well as parental controls.
- Jio cinema does not meet any of the requirements of the IT rules. Jio did not return a request for comment.
- Hoichoi has a complaint mechanism and a parental control function, but does not meet other requirements; However, in a statement shared with MediaNama, the company stated that it intended to meet the government’s deadline in full.
- Lionsgate game has a complaint mechanism but no complainant, the details of which are published on the website. The age ratings do not meet government standards. It has parental controls, but content descriptions are not applied consistently. “We are working to implement guidelines as a law-abiding company within the given timeframe,” a spokesman for Lionsgate Play told MediaNama.
- Apple TV + has age ratings that do not meet government standards. It has parental controls but doesn’t check any other boxes. Apple has not returned the request for comment.
- YouTube Premium has no complainant but has a general legal form that can be used for legal inquiries around the world. Age ratings are available but do not meet government standards. Content descriptions for YouTube Originals are absent, and parental controls are not available either. Google did not respond to a request for comment.
- Aha has age ratings (does not meet government standards) and does not meet any other requirements. The Telugu-focused streaming service has not returned a request for comment.
- SunNXT has a complainant and a complaint mechanism, but is otherwise non-compliant. We have asked the complainant to comment and have not yet heard from it.
- MX player is completely non-compliant. The company has not returned a request for comment.
- Voot is fully compliant, apart from the fact that no complainant is mentioned on its website. The company did not respond to a request for comment.
- ShemarooMe has parental controls, but is otherwise not compliant. The company did not respond to a request for comment.
- discovery plus has age ratings that do not meet government standards. There is a complaint system but no complainant listed on its website. It has parental controls but no content descriptions. The company did not respond to a request for comment.
- Play Hungama partially implemented a version of content descriptors and has a complaint mechanism, but does not meet other requirements. The company did not respond to requests for comment.