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MIB Reiterates Its Inclination Towards Self Regulation In OTT

The ministry of information and broadcasting will look after curated content on video streaming platforms while the ministry of information technology (IT) will take care of broader user-generated content and social media, a senior government official said.

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“OTT (over-the-top video streaming industry) is a strange animal but our self-regulation model will only apply to curated content on streaming platforms (like Netflix, Amazon, Hotstar and others) while user-generated content and social media would be the reserve of the IT Ministry,” Atul Kumar Tiwari, additional secretary, ministry of information and broadcasting, said at India Video 360-Broadcasting, Satellite & Telecoms, a conference organized by Hong Kong-based Asia Video Industry Association in New Delhi on Thursday.

Tiwari added that both the ministry of information and broadcasting and IT were working together to ensure that online and offline curated video content is looked at by MIB.

“We’ve had discussions with many stakeholders (in the OTT space) and are trying to reach a model that is agreeable to both the government and other members of society. We recognize that the OTT format is different from cinema and television. But even the Indian Constitution guarantees freedom of expression subject to reasonable restrictions,” Tiwari said.

Unlike television broadcasting and feature films, the video streaming industry in India will continue to enjoy creative freedom and platforms will only have to come together to create a self-regulation model, Amit Khare, secretary, ministry of information and broadcasting, had said at an event in New Delhi last month.

Minimal regulation also seems to be an ideal the government is looking to extend to the traditional broadcasting industry. The ideal scenario would be to not have any regulation in place, if the market sees healthy growth on its own with no friction between various stakeholders—be it content producers like the broadcasters, distributors like DTH (direct-to-home) platforms and multi-system operators and the consumers.

“Unfortunately, there is often a divergence of interests between these sections and we have to intervene,” RS Sharma, chairman of the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) said at the same event. That is the reason, he added, that Trai had come up with the new tariff order (NTO) last year after 13 years of no regulation for the broadcast sector. According to the new tariff regime proposed by the regulator, consumers can choose the TV channels they want and pay only for them at maximum retail prices (MRPs) set by broadcasters as opposed to the bouquets offered earlier.

Sharma said India is unlikely to see a complete switch to online video as cord-cutting, or the phenomenon of people cancelling or forgoing a pay television subscription in favour of an alternative internet-based service, is still some time away despite the penetration of mobile phones.

“OTT will continue to grow in India but linear television will remain too, especially given the variety of television content we have. If data prices remain as low as they are, there could be an acceleration (in online video consumption). But I don’t see a great dip in television in the next one or two years,” Sharma said.―Livemint

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