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Govt creates a 3-layer mechanism to check OTT content but no blanket censorship

Video streaming platforms will be able to classify their content under different ratings.

February 25, 2021 / 05:34 PM IST
Representative image

Representative image

Now, over the top (OTTs) platforms will not only have a self-regulatory body to oversee their content, there will also be an oversight mechanism within which an 'Authorised Officer' will have the power to block access to content.

The government has come up with a three-tier structure to regulate content on video streaming platforms.

Level one or the first tier includes solving of grievances. If there is any grievance against any content on video streaming platform, a complainant can approach the 'Grievance Redressal Officer' who will have to ensure that he/she takes a decision regarding the grievance within 15 days.

The second level involves self-regulating body which will overlook content and will issue guidance to OTT players. This means that if a content violates the Code of Ethics, the association has powers to issue warning and reprimand the OTT player. It can also ask the video streaming player to issue an apology, include a disclaimer and even ask players to reclassify ratings for the content.

If an OTT player fails to comply with the guidances or advisories of the self-regulating body, it can also refer cases to the Oversight Mechanism.

Close

Under the third level, the Oversight Mechanism will have an officer of the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting not below the rank of a Joint Secretary as Authorised Officer who can issue direction to block access to content.

While the government has tightened the norms to regulate web content, the classification of content remains self regulated for now.

So, it will be the OTT players who will decide what rating to give to a particular content whether it comes under U rating (content suitable for all) or UA7+ rating (content that can be viewed by a person below seven years)

While there could be some interventions in terms of giving ratings to a content, it is still self regulation for OTTs. Unlike films, which can be exhibited only after they have been certified by the Central Board of Film Certification, the OTT players still have the power to classify their content under different ratings.

This is why Karan Taurani, Vice-President, Elara Capital, does not expect any negative impact on the viewership of OTT content.

In fact, he thinks that it will create some level playing field in terms of OTT versus the TV industry which was completely absent earlier.

"This will lead to consolidation or shut down of small/niche OTTs which have always been relying upon obscene content. So, this will augur well for large global giant OTT’s and TV broadcaster based OTTs," said Taurani.
Maryam Farooqui
first published: Feb 25, 2021 05:08 pm

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