Regulators

MIB may nod in favour of self-regulation code for online video streamers

Discussions on grievance redressal mechanisms have been rife.

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MUMBAI: An upswing in online streaming platforms in India has drawn attention of authority as well as stakeholders on regulation. As per industry sources, most of the major players have agreed to a code of self-regulation that may receive an endorsement from the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (MIB).

While Netflix, Star India’s Hotstar, Reliance Jio, Zee5, AltBalaji, SonyLiv and Times Internet Limited-owned MX Player are ready to follow the codes, giant international players Amazon Prime Video, Google and Facebook are not in agreement. According to sources, there are some differences over details of grievance redressal mechanisms among the players who are ready to accept the code.

Indiantelevision.com has learnt of the existence of a document called “Code of best practices for curated online video platforms” which depicts the principles, objectives as well as the codes of the self-regulation.

The key objectives of the code is to empower consumers to make informed choices and protect the interests of consumers. It also looks at the creative freedom of content creators and artists. Providing mechanism for grievance redressal in relation to content made available by the platforms has also been highlighted under the objectives.

As per the said draft, the code properly defines prohibited content and age-inappropriate or sensitive content. Any content showing disrespect to the national emblem or national flag, child engaged in sexual activities, outrages religious sentiments, promotes terrorism will be prohibited.

“The signatories to this code seek to protect the consumers’ ability to choose the content that is appropriate for themselves and their families. The objective is to use information and technological tools to equip consumers with requisite knowledge and awareness, to enable informed decisions on the consumption of content,” the draft is said to mention.

Discussions on grievance redressal mechanism have also acquired an important place in the document. There is suggestion to internally institute as part of their operational systems an independent Standards and Practices (S&P) department to receive, objectively address any online consumer related concerns and complaints in relation to content made available.

There are also suggestions that the signatories of the code shall establish a grievance redressal body - the Content Committee, which shall address grievances from users on violations of the code. The detailed process, functioning and powers of the Content Committee will be institutionalised in due course. However, ZEE5 and Netflix have not agreed to complaint redressal codes yet.

Although the voluntary censorship code is aimed at maintaining creative freedom, the rules under the code highly reflect the model of TV content censorship. According to earlier reports, The Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) has supposedly drafted the code.

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