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OTT platforms may soon adopt self-censorship

Amazon, Facebook and Google are unlikely to sign up while Netflix and Hotstar agree.

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MUMBAI:  Leading OTT players clearly don’t want the government interfering with their content or creating rules like broadcast. So, Netflix, Hotstar, Reliance Jio and some other streaming services may soon adopt a voluntary censorship code.

As part of the code, the platforms will remove content that has been banned by the courts and that disrespects the national flag, emblem, hurts religious sentiments or promotes violence or terrorism against the country, or even shows children in sexual acts. These are codes that even the broadcast industry follows.

Economic Times citing sources reported on the self-censorship initiative. However, tech companies including Amazon, Facebook and Google are unlikely to sign up for the code as this move of could set an example of how to regulate internet and meddle with creative freedom.

The code is likely to include a “redressal mechanism” allowing the users of the streaming platform to issue complain in case they think that the over-the-top (OTT) services have violated the code. Eventually, this mechanism may transform in an “adjudicatory body” that will resolve the complaints filed by the customers.

According to the report, ZEE5, Times Internet, Eros Now and AltBalaji are in favour of the code and the Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) is facilitating the process. It also added that the players who don’t think it as a very wise step opine it would lead to an unnecessarily nervous environment and validates the government’s point of view that the internet needs regulation.

Allegedly, the whole process has been opaque and closed-door while content creators have not been included in the discussions. The opposition group to the court also believes the process has been swayed by companies that want OTT companies to be at a more level playing field with broadcasters.

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