The Supreme Court asked for the Centre’s response on a plea seeking guidelines to regulate the functioning of online media streaming platforms like Netflix and Amazon Prime Video which display “uncertified and sexually explicit” content.
A bench of Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justice Sanjiv Khanna issued notices to the ministries of broadcasting, law and communications on an appeal challenging the February 8 order of the Delhi High Court order which had dismissed it.
The high court had rejected the petition by NGO, Justice For Rights Foundation, after the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting had informed it that online platforms are not required to obtain any licence from it.
The plea, filed through advocate H S Hora in the apex court, said these online web platforms are functioning in India without obtaining licence which has been admitted by the ministries concerned in their affidavit filed before the high court on February 4.
“The said online platforms are displaying unlicenced, unregulated, uncertified content and collecting subscription amounts from Indian consumers whereas the content telecasted on the online platforms is illegal to the extent that certain movies banned under the provisions of the Indian Cinematograph Act and not even passed by the Central Board for Film Certification but are allowed to be telecasted for the general populace by bypassing the law of the land,” the plea said.
It added that due to lack of any licence or regulating body, the respondents via their inaction are creating a special class of broadcasters and therefore discriminating against the customers, regular movie producers, Cable-TV operators and D2H operators.
“The impugned judgment of February 8 (of high court) only presents the petitioner with remedies that are available after the content has been broadcast, however, the petitioner had also raised the contention that such content must be certified by a certifying body as the content on these web platforms is broadcasted for consumption of general public,” the plea said.
The high court had not issued notice on the NGO’s petition but had only sought the government’s response on the plea which had also alleged that the online media streaming platforms show “uncertified, sexually explicit and vulgar” content.
In its plea in the high court, the NGO had claimed that online media streaming platforms, that also include Hotstar, show content which is “unregulated and uncertified” for public viewing.
The plea had claimed in the high court that television series like “Sacred Games”, “Game of Thrones” and “Spartacus”, shown on platforms like Netflix, contain “vulgar, profane, sexually explicit, pornographic, morally unethical and virulent” content which often “depict women in objectifying manner”.―Business Standard