In the wake of the government releasing new guidelines for OTT streaming platforms, the Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) representatives called on Union Information and Broadcasting Minister Prakash Javadekar on Thursday and stressed on the need for protection from FIRs and complaints following the decision.
The representatives argued that this should happen only after the three-tier mechanism ends i.e. if a viewer has objections to the content then they should lodge a police complaint only after going through the process put in place.
One of the representatives highlighted the ongoing controversy surrounding the web series ‘Tandav’, which has been accused of hurting religious sentiments of a section of the audience.
“The High Court rejected the anticipatory bail plea despite an apology by the makers. We will follow the three-tier mechanism laid down by the government in the guidelines but we an assurance that no criminal proceedings will be initiated against us,” he said.
The delegation also expressed their concern over the move to self-classify content in age-based categories.
Under the new rules, OTT players need to self-classify content in five age-based categories which include U (Universal), A (Adult), U/A 7+, U/A 13+, U/A 13 + and U/A 16+ and A (Adult). OTT players also need to ensure a reliable age verification system mechanism for content classified as A.
Tightening control over OTT video streaming platforms, the Centre on February 25 introduced a three-tier mechanism. The first two tiers bring in place a system of self-regulation by the platform itself and by the self-regulatory bodies of content publishers while the third calls for an oversight mechanism by the Central Government.
The representatives of various OTT platforms, including from Alt Balaji, Hotstar, Amazon Prime, Netflix, Jio, Zee5, Viacom18, Shemaroo, MxPlayer, etc. were present in the meeting.
Addressing the representatives, Prakash Javadekar mentioned the government has done several rounds of consultations with the OTT players in the past and stressed the need for self-regulation.
The Information and Broadcasting Minister stated that he had received representations from cinema and TV industries that while there were regulations for them, none existed for OTT industry.
Thus, it was decided that the government would come out with progressive institutional mechanism for OTT players and develop a level playing field with the idea of self-regulation.
Prakash Javadekar appreciated that many OTT platforms had welcomed the rules.
Informing the representatives about the provisions of the rules, the Information and Broadcasting Minister said it merely requires them to disclose information and that there is no requirement of registration of any kind with the Ministry.
He added that a form for this will be ready soon. Furthermore, the rules focus on self-classification of content instead of any form of censorship. Further, OTT platforms are expected to develop an effective grievance redressal mechanism.
Dispelling rumours, the Information and Broadcasting Minister clarified that in the self-regulating body, no member will be appointed by the government.
Speaking on the government’s power under the rules, the Information and Broadcasting Minister informed the government will create Inter Departmental Committee to look at complaints which remain unresolved at the self-regulatory level.
Prakash Javadekar later tweeted about the meeting.
“Had a fruitful meeting with representatives from OTT industry and explained the provisions of the OTT rules. All representatives have welcomed the new guidelines. The Ministry and industry will partner together to make the OTT experience better for all audience,” he wrote on Twitter. News.abplive