OTT platforms to come under I and B Ministry: Digital content fear censorship

On this Wednesday, the Central government has issued a gazette notification to bring all digital contents, Over The Top platforms including Netflix, Amazon’s Prime Video, and Hotstar under the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, headed by Prakash Javadekar. The notification was signed by the President of India, Ram NathKovind. Earlier, these platforms were under the control of the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology. On the other hand, media such as print, television and radio were under the I&B ministry.

The government has made such a decision because of the disagreement with the industry bodies’ self-regulation plan formulating a framework for age classification, appropriate content description and access control. 15 OTT platforms including Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Disney+ Hotstar, Discovery+, Eros Now, Flickstree, Hoichoi, Hungama, MX Player, ShemarooALTBalaji, ZEE5, Arre, VOOT, and Jio Cinema had come together under the aegis of the Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) in September to sign a code of self-regulation, but the MIB has already rejected the code. The MIB has already asked to form an independent monitoring organisation like the Digital Curated Content Complaints Council (DCCCC).

 The important thing to be noted is that the content that was available once with its essence and originality will have to undergo censorship that will deteriorate the platforms’ current rating and viewership. Even a

Malayalam movie released on Netflix has removed the word ‘beef’ from it and added the beep sound instead of that. Apart from all of this, India is not the first or only country to regulate digital media. In U.S. all electronic communication is regulated by an independent government agency, the Federal Communications Commission, that regulates communications through radio, television, wire, cable, and satellite. Meanwhile, China, South Korea, and Singapore have internet-specific censorship laws.            “There is no clarity on what they mean by digital media. The government talks about digital media and digital aggregators in the same breath but they are different things. Are they looking at licensing, are they looking at entry barriers, or are they looking at curbing digital media? We still don’t know,” M.K. Venu, founding editor of news portal The Wire said.

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