Telecom and Postal Sector – Spectrum Allocation, Call Drops, Predatory Pricing, etc

Governing OTT Platforms


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : OTT

Mains level : Need for OTT media regulation

In a move that will have a far-reaching impact, the Union government has brought Over The Top (OTT) platforms, or video streaming service providers under the ambit of the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (MIB).

Try answering this

Q.What is Over the Top (OTT) media services? Critically analyse the benefits and challenges offered by the OTT media services in India.


  • The MIB has found a vast swathe of unregulated content, namely news online and Over the top (OTT) platforms which had escaped any architecture of regulation.
  • The print was regulated by the Press Council of India and Television, both News and Entertainment were being regulated by the Cable Networks Regulation Act (2005).
  • However, the content on online, the Government felt, fell into a black hole with no oversight.

What are OTT Media?

  • An over-the-top (OTT) media service is a streaming media service offered directly to viewers via the Internet.
  • OTT bypasses cable, broadcast, and satellite television platforms, the companies that traditionally act as a controller or distributor of such content.
  • The term is most synonymous with subscription-based video-on-demand (SVoD) services that offer access to film and television content.
  • They are typically accessed via websites on personal computers, as well as via apps on mobile devices (such as smartphones and tablets), digital media players, or televisions with integrated Smart TV platforms.

Regulating OTT

  • Currently, there is no law or autonomous body governing digital content. The recent move will give the government control over OTT platforms, which were unregulated till now.
  • From time to time, the government had indicated the necessity to monitor these platforms.
  • In October 2019, the government had indicated that it will issue the “negative” list of don’ts for the video streaming services like Netflix and Hotstar.
  • It also wanted the platforms to come up with a self-regulatory body on the lines of the News Broadcasting Standards Authority.

Self-regulation is not sufficient

  • Anticipating the government’s intervention, in January 2019, video streaming services had signed a self-regulatory code that laid down a set of guiding principles for content on these platforms.
  • The code adopted by the OTTs prohibited five types of content:
  1. Content that deliberately and maliciously disrespects the national emblem or national flag,
  2. Any visual or storyline that promotes child pornography
  3. Any content that “maliciously” intends to outrage religious sentiments
  4. Content that “deliberately and maliciously” promotes or encourages terrorism and
  5. Any content that has been banned for exhibition or distribution by law or court
  • The government had refused to support this code.

What lies ahead?

  • The government had been giving enough hints from time to time that it wanted to regulate digital media but the exact nature of the regulation it wanted to bring was not clear.
  • The government considers digital media and digital aggregators in the same breath but they are different things.
  • It is unclear whether it is looking at licensing or entry barriers, or any other curbs in digital media.
  • However, monitoring content 24×7 has its own challenges. Whether the Ministry will set up a committee involving the public to look into complaints received remains to be seen.
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Tractor Junction
Tractor Junction
7 months ago

Hello, Thanks for sharing this beautiful blog. Hope you are sharing more blogs like this

6 months ago

1. These are audio and video hosting and streaming services which started out as content hosting platforms.
2. These platforms are now branched out into the production and release of short movies, feature films, documentaries and web-series themselves.
3. These platforms offer a range of content and use artificial intelligence to suggest users the content they are likely to view based on their past viewership on the platform.
– According to reports, with a market size of nearly Rs 500 crore in 2019, the online video streaming platforms may become a Rs 4000-crore revenue market by the end of 2025.
At the end of 2019, India had as many as 17 crore OTT platform users.

Benefits of OTT Platforms:-

1. Creative content: These platforms help bring socio-political content or matters to a common man, which otherwise are censored in mainstream media.
2. On demand hybrid content:
– These platforms combine the passive consumption mode of television and the consumer choice of the web.
– Hence, the advantage of playing media anywhere and anytime has created a massive demand
for it.
3. A new life to traditional media: Especially in the post-Covid era, due to social distancing becoming a norm in the society.
4. Better access: The industry is benefiting numerous content producers and artists. It also helps in accessing regional films around the country as well as globally.

challenges by ott platforms :-

1. Little or no regulation: While traditional media in India are regulated under specific laws – Films are regulated under the Cinematograph Act of 1952; The Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Act, 1995, there is no such specific law for regulation of content over OTT platforms.
– Hence, the content on OTT platforms can disrupt social harmony and moral fabric of society.
2. No consensus of self regulation:
– OTT platforms had signed a self-regulation code under the aegis of the Internet and Mobile Association of India.
– However, there’s no consensus on the code amongst the various OTT platforms operating in India.
3. Digital Curated Content Complaints Council: The Online Curated Content Providers (OCCPs) had proposed this council but was shot down by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, which will now oversee these platforms.
4. Cultural imperialism: OTT platforms are streaming a lot of cross-cultural content. Though it is good for creating a cosmopolitan world, it has aggravated some of the means in the society like cultural imperialism.

Conclusion :-

Government should walk a tight rope to ensure that content on digital medium doesn’t affect the Nation’s & Society’s interest but should also make sure that regulations don’t stifle the freedom of speech & expression.