• Shobicka J B

OTT PLATFORM AND ITS NEW REGULATIONS

Author: Shobicka J B





Introduction


The term OTT means Over the Top, it is a media service that brings movies and shows to the views via the internet. The OTT companies act as a supplier of those movies and shows. There is no requirement for broadcasting, satellite television,and cable services. The company acts as a controller and distributor to the viewers through the internet. Due to the Covid Lockdown in 2020, the theatres have been closed and OTT became the common platform for streaming the new movies and shows. Some Indian Streaming OTT platforms are Netflix, Amazon, Hotstar, Jio, etc.


Universal Self - Regulation Code[1]


The OTT platforms including Netflix and 14 others have signed the self-regulation code with their content givers for proper content and censor for the best practices. For Youtube and social media, this code does not apply because the user-generated content will be provided in those. The other platforms like Zee5, Viacom18, Disney+ Hotstar, Amazon Prime Video, Netflix, MX Player, Jio Cinema, Eros Now, Alt Balaji, Arre, Hoichoi, Hungama, Shemaroo, Discovery Plus, Flickstree the contents will be provided signature authority to the code and it is said to be the curated content. It was said that this OTT platform is totally for private exhibition and hence it does not necessarily follow the rules and regulations that are laid for theatrical releases. They provide contents that are user-initiated access and are in parental control with passwords.


The code constitutes that the primary governing rule of the OTT regarding the contents is ‘Information Technology Act, 2000’ and it does not restrict anything beyond Article 19 (2) of the constitution. It is also made clear that all the details regarding the content should be classified. Age and content should be rated. The intensity of the content should be mentioned with the age categories.


The complaints made to the companies should be addressed; there should be two levelsin addressing the issue such as consumer complaint departments and the appellate committee. The outcome of the complaints should be displayed or properly disposed of according to the nature and subject of the complaint[2].


Government’s Intervention


The Union Government has brought the Over –– Top or OTT platforms or Video streaming companies under the ministry of the control of the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting[3]. There was no particular law for the OTT platforms to be regulated. Now Government took the authority of those platforms and to be regulated under the ministry lead by Mr.Prakash Javadekar.


The self-regulatory code was asked to be made by the government last year. But it refused to accept those codes and intervened by the government. The decision was made by the government to keep the OTT platform under regulations. Since the vast amount of content has been released in the OTT platform now, it is technically under the subject matter of the Information Technology Act, 2000.


Normally, when the film has to be released, it will be screened under the censor board to get clearance and it will adapt to the regulation and will be screened in the broadcasting. The process with the format will be under the regulation of the Cable Networks Regulation Act.

The self-regulation code adopted by the OTT platform prohibited certain categories which are seemed to disrespect the countries national emblem or national flag, the story that promotes child pornography, any actions that outrage the religious sentiments or maliciously encourage the activities of terrorism, and any activities that are banned by the law. Howeverthe government was not satisfied, it needs the Ministry of I & B to take control and regulate the platform which is highly in use.


The government held that the activities for the content and the news which are to be exhibited through the internet and broadcasting will be under the control of them. Presently, the Print media was under the regulation of the Press Council of India. The news channels were represented by the News Broadcasters Association (NBA). The advertising is under the regulation of the Advertising Standards Council of India. Whereas, the movies are under the observation of the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC)

It was held that the regulations were made for the ‘greater discipline online’ by the government.


Case study


In Karnataka, a PIL was filed asking the serials and films streaming in the OTT comes under the Cinematograph Act, 1952. The Karnataka High Court rejected the plea saying that streaming contents and issues in the OTT were made under the request of the users and hence it cannot be classified under the Cinematograph Act, 1952[4].


The Delhi based NGO; the Justice for Rights Foundation filed a petition stating that the OTT platforms need regulation. They stated that those online streaming platforms violate the provisions of the Indian Penal Code and Information Technology Act. They rejected the plea stating that those online platforms do not require any licenses to stream[5].


Conclusion


The OTT platform has become the new usual, the lockdown has made the OTT platforms more common. With the various contents being streamed and accessed by almost everyone, there have to be some regulations in which the content is to be streamed more than the self-regulation code was the thought put forth by the government. That led to the decision in which the OTT platforms should be under the regulation of the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting.


References:

[1]The Universal Self-Regulation Code for Online content curators, Indian National BAR Association, https://inbaviewpoint.org/the-universal-self-regulation-code-for-online-content-curators/ [2]Aroon Deep, Summar:IAMAI’s Self-Regulation Code for Online Curated Content Platforms, https://www.medianama.com/2020/09/223-iamai-occp-self-regulation-summary/ [3]Government to govern Netflix, Amazon Prime and other OTT platforms, The Hindu, https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/netflix-amazon-prime-other-ott-platforms-now-under-govt-regulation/article33072710.ece [4]Karnataka High Court rejects plea to regulate online content under Cinematograph Acy, INDIANtelevision, https://www.indiantelevision.com/regulators/high-court/karnataka-high-court-rejects-plea-to-regulate-online-content-under-cinematograph-act-190809 [5]Delhi HC Dismisses petition seeking Licensing and Regulation of OTT platforms, MEDIANAMA, https://www.medianama.com/2019/02/223-delhi-hc-no-regulation-ott-platforms/

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