The OTT platforms will abide by an unofficial code put together by the industry body Internet & Mobile Association of India
While Indian consumers do not mind the absence of specific guidelines for digital content, major online streaming services including Netflix, Hotstar, Zee5 and ALT Balaji are batting for self-regulation to avoid any trouble in the future.
These platforms will abide by an unofficial code put together by the industry body Internet & Mobile Association of India (IAMAI). Eros Now, Sony Pictures Network and Viacom 18 are other firms supporting this move. The 'Code of Best Practices for Online Curated Content Providers' lays out rules that platforms must keep in mind while producing content.
The platforms will not produce content that disrespects the national flag or the national emblem. The code will also take into account whether any production on their platforms offends religious sentiments of any section of the society. Content promoting terrorism or any violent behaviour against the country will not be allowed on the portals. They will also have to categorise content as either general viewing, viewing under parental guidance or mention which content is inappropriate for minors.
Under the code's complaint redressal mechanism, a dedicated team will be formed to take customers' concerns regarding content, which has to be addressed within 10 days.
"The self-regulation code is a set of guiding principles for participating companies like us. It ensures an environment that protects the artistic vision of content producers so that their work can be seen by their fans. The code also empowers consumers to make viewing choices that are right for them and their families," Netflix told Moneycontrol.
Many advocacy groups such as the Centre for Communication Governance have criticised the code, calling it vague and saying that it paves the way for private censorship. The Internet Freedom Foundation called for more public engagement and transparency in the code. In a letter to IAMAI, the foundation said, "To have such a measure discussed privately among a handful of existing video players and then seek endorsement from government ministries is incredibly troubling."
Amazon Prime had already indulged in self-censorship in December when it removed scenes of nudity from 'Marvelous Mrs Maisel'.(With inputs from PTI)