Restricting the Streaming Services in India: Over the Top (OTT) Regulation?

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The 500 emerging market capitalization for more than 17 crore users will soon need to adopt regulations and mandates with its additions to Schedule 2, Indian Government Regulations (Business Allocation), 1961 (amended by the 2020 Act) under the Department of Information & Broadcasting.

The move comes as a result of the announcement by CJI Sharad Arvind Bobde, who is leading the bench of the Supreme Court in the PIL seeking control of these platforms. Consequently, it should also avoid criticism of the mid-action initiative and free speech.

Definition of the Word ‘OTT’

OTT stands for ‘over-the-top’, a term used to deliver online film and TV content, without requiring users to subscribe to a traditional cable or satellite pay-tv. Launched as video content capture services, these have also become major producers, such as the Amazon inventory model case series. Herein, they not only provide hosting services but are also involved in key content distribution and production services. For example, ASUR in Voot/Netflix/Prime Originals is included within its realm. According to the notification, movies and visual aids must be made available by online content and news providers, etc. 

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The term Internet Content Provider technically excluded hosting services such as YouTube or Daily Motion (will still include their premium OTT services such as YouTube Red in the Indian context) where the company plays the role of a platform among users. Audiences are reluctant to search for truth and understanding between lines. There are many movies and series that claim to be based on real events, but in the whole story, one or two events are ignored. Usually, we see any movie or series getting good views without creating controversy. Creating controversy is the best way to attract a foolish audience, which is well pulled off by inexperienced directors. If all these things do not stop or the audience does not grow, it will be difficult to keep independent series and movies in the name of free imagination.

Legal Regulations into Action

It can be assumed that the Cable Television Network Regulation Act, 1995, could serve as a model for creating rules for online content. The Program Code becomes a list of things that should not be done that channels need to follow and follow. During the closure of Covid-19, OTT platforms became very popular. Subscriptions for several platforms like Netflix, Amazon Prime, Mx Player, ULLU, Alt Balaji etc. have increased significantly during this period. 

The challenge for these platforms was to create new content, as it was the only good content that could give them a lead over the competition. Now, in addition to working hard on good scripts inside and outside the office box, these platforms have found an easy way to entertain viewers and the idea was to create high-quality erotica content and not quality. As a result, a storm of extreme sexual content and nudity emerged. Web series like Gandi Baat, Mastram and several others like them were delivering a sophisticated OTT platform subscription.

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If we pay more attention and do some research, we will find that over the past six months, these forums have made the content high on erotica, some of which has made soft pornography. Singapore’s media regulatory body sets out to ensure compliance, religious and social, the balance of views on matters, and the prohibition of repetitive and repetitive visions. The Broadcasting Services Act, 1992 of Australia requires the provider to classify the content into sub-categories to proceed with the law.

Will it be a Reversal for the OTT providers?

Expanded controls may take time, but at least what can be expected of these technology companies is that their power in the field should enable them to comply more quickly than other mediums. Recently, after a two-year pilot test, Netflix received permission to edit its own content using its Australian tools. The monitoring system has revealed that the Netflix tool can scan and classify content at 94% accuracy. The tool is expected to help Netflix classify content and issue appropriate advice as soon as possible to launch its content in Australia without major delays.

Speaking of free speech, the content that is found on these platforms has political views and the media, which has scrutinies when published in some form of distribution. IAMAI has signed a code of conduct, which can only be good if the platforms do not oppose them. Some platforms are wolves in sheep’s clothing and exceed the limits of adult content otherwise by pretending to be a ‘CONTENT’ Provider instead of what they do. Many players who enter the market passing the law are the reason that it is not just a problem to control free speech.

Movies are already under the regulation; the hue and cry of OTT regulation cannot be fixed. Some actors are demanding such freedom as that of artists and painters, real-time people who are secretly controlled the theatre. The Indian government convened a meeting of all these OTT platforms for about a year and asked them to make a commitment to restrict the content they produce. But the government’s request was not considered by the owner of most OTT platforms. Technically, if platforms are unable or unwilling to make independent legislation, the Indian government should intervene and enact legislation to ban those OTT platforms.

Conclusion

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Establishing a licensing and regulatory regime poses a significant risk of property damage. The introduction of new services and features will take a lot of time, and it will be difficult to start a new one that costs less to enter the market. It will essentially undermine the legitimacy of the fast-growing digital media industry.


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