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India’s new OTT regulations are just around the corner

India’s central government has filed a petition to move all the pending petitions against OTTs like Amazon Prime Video, Netflix and Disney+Hostar to the Supreme Court.

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Currently, various pending cases are spread across different High Courts of the country.

The move comes just two days after Union Minister Prakash Javdekar told the Rajya Sabha that India’s new OTT guidelines are almost ready and the stakeholders will be notified soon.
Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Disney Hotstar and other over-the-top (OTT) platforms in India may have more to worry about as the Indian government looks to transfer pending cases against them from different High Courts in the country to the Supreme Court.

The move comes just two days after the Union Minister Prakash Javdekar told the Rajya Sabha that India’s new OTT guidelines are almost ready and the stakeholders will be notified soon.

The central government specifically named Netflix India, Amazon Prime Video, Disney+Hotstar, Alt Balaji, Sony Liv, Zee5, Arre OTT, Y Films, VOOT, ULLU Digital, Hoichoi, and VIU in its transfer petition.

What’s the ruckus about?
Currently, the OTT platforms fall outside the regulatory framework of the Central Board of Film Certification. This means that, by law, they are not required to get certified by the government and can release their movies and shows without any oversight.

OTT platforms, which were formerly under the purview of the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY), were recently shifted to come under the gambit of the Information and Broadcasting (I&B) Ministry.

Recent shows like Taandav, Paatal Lok, Sacred Games, Mirzapur and others have come under scrutiny for hurting religious sentiments and being offensive to specific communities. However, the specific High Courts where these petitions have been filed have rejected or refused to entertain the petitions because they do not fall under their purview.

Petitions against OTTs bounce from one High Court to the next
In August 2019, for instance, the Karnataka High Court rejected a petition seeking the regulation of OTT platforms saying that the court cannot frame such regulations.

More recently, the Allahabad High Court rejected the petition seeking to ban XXX2 and Paatal Lok — both on Amazon Prime Video — for the same reason. The bench headed by Chief Justice Govind Mathur and Justice Siddharth Verma told the petitioner to file his complaint before the relevant central government authority.

In a third incident, the Madhya Pradesh High Court also refused to entertain a petition seeking a ban on Amazon Prime Video’s Tandaav.

As of February 2020, the High Courts of Punjab, Haryana, Allahabad and Madhya Pradesh are considering petitions which are seeking the regulation of OTT platforms, according to LiveLaw. If the central government’s petition is accepted, all of these pending cases will be heard by the Supreme Court. And, the ruling against them may be according to the new OTT regulations that the government is poised to put out shortly. Business Insider

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