Freedom of Speech – Defamation, Sedition, etc.

OTT players adopt ‘toolkit’ for self-regulation


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : OTT

Mains level : Need for OTT media regulation

Online streaming providers have announced the adoption of an ‘implementation toolkit’, under the aegis of the Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI).

What is the news?

  • Various OTT platforms say that this is in furtherance to the Universal Self-Regulation Code the body had introduced in September.
  • The government had rejected this USRC code.

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

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.

What is the toolkit about?

  • The effort of the signatories, through this toolkit, is to also address feedback received from the ministry of information and broadcasting inter-alia, on the issues of conflict of interest and prohibited content.

The all-inclusive implementation toolkit will assist signatories in a seamless transition to self-regulation and guide them on various dimensions like:

  • Relevant laws of the land which will be adhered to by the signatories
  • Fair and transparent functioning of the grievance redressal mechanism, with escalation to an advisory panel with independent members
  • Training programs for creative and legal teams of OCCPs to enhance the knowledge and nuances of laws that govern content
  • Awareness programs for consumers to help increase understanding and use of age rating, content descriptor & parental controls
  • Implementation of a detailed audit and compliance mechanism

Why such code?

  • The code comes into force at a time when the government has put OTT platforms on the anvil of content regulation after a spate of complaints on the ‘sensitive’ and ‘objectionable’ nature of certain shows.
  • Earlier this week, I&B minister has assured the Parliament that guidelines for the regulation of OTTs have been practically hammered out and will be implemented soon.

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