Twenty-one MPs cutting across the party lines have sought an answer from the government about content on OTT platforms such as Netflix and Amazon Prime, asking the Centre whether it is aware that these platforms are full of “sex, violence, abuse, vulgarity and disrespect to religious sentiments”.
Information and Broadcasting Minister Prakash Javadekar recently said his Ministry would soon come up with a regulatory code on the content on these platforms. The guidelines are expected to be made public in a week’s time.
“We are at the final stages of working on the guidelines and it will be soon out,” he told The Hindu. Sources in the I&B Ministry said the government had urged the platforms to come up with guidelines themselves.
The Ministry in its reply on Friday said there are currently 40 OTT platforms operating in India. Government as a first step towards regulation, amended the “allocation of Business Rules” in November last year bringing all online platforms under the mandate of the I&B Ministry. All platforms were told to register with the Ministry.
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“The Government has received several grievances/complaints regarding content of programmes on OTT platforms,” the I&B Ministry said in its reply. The latest furore was over an Amazon Prime series Tandav starring Saif Ali Khan. Following the controversy that some scenes of the series referring to Hindu gods were derogatory, the makers of the series met Mr. Javadekar before making a public statement that they were editing out the said sequences.
The Ministry in its reply said they had several rounds of consultations with the Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) impressing upon them the need for an appropriate self-regulatory mechanism for content over OTT platforms.
“In August 2020, the IAMAI had informed the Ministry that a self-regulatory mechanism had been developed for the OTT platforms. On examination it was felt that the mechanism proposed by IAMAI did not give adequate cognizance to content prohibited under law and there were issues of conflict of interest, which were communicated to IAMAI in September, 2020,” the Ministry noted.
Some of the MPs who posed this question include, BJP’s Tejashwi Surya, Ravi Kisan and Shobha Karandlaje, Congress’s Dean Kuriakose and Ranveet Singh Bittu and BJD’s Pinaki Misra.