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Guidelines to regulate OTT content coming soon: Prakash Javadekar

Guidelines in view of rising complaints against content on streaming services.

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NEW DELHI: Even as major streaming services are reeling from back to back controversies and calls for boycott over their original series, Union minister for information and broadcasting Prakash Javadekar has said the government is coming up with a set of guidelines to regulate content on OTT platforms. These regulations will be released “soon”, promised Javaker, especially given the number of complaints these platforms keep racking up with every passing day.

“We have received a lot of complaints against some serials available on OTT platforms. Films and serials released on OTT platforms and digital newspapers do not come under the purview of the Press Council Act, Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Act or Censor Board. We will come up with some guidelines on it soon,” the minister told ANI.

Javadekar’s remarks came close on the heels of the furore over Amazon Prime Video’s political drama Tandav, which has sections of the public up in arms for its depiction of Hindu gods. Several criminal complaints have been filed across multiple states against the show’s producers and actors for slights such as the alleged inappropriate depiction of Uttar Pradesh police personnel, deities and adverse portrayal of a character playing the role of prime minister in the show.

Another popular Prime Video series, Mirzapur, too landed in court when a petitioner claimed the show tarnishes the image of the town of Mirzapur, where it is supposedly based. Global streaming giant Netflix, too, is no stranger to controversy when it comes to the content it hosts. Most recently, an FIR was filed against the limited series A Suitable Boy over a kissing scene shot in a temple, which was deemed “offensive to Hindu sentiments” by right-wing people on social media and even leaders of political parties.

It is also worth noting that in November last year, the Centre issued a gazette notification which brought digital news portals and video streaming platforms under the ambit of the ministry of information and broadcasting, barely two months after 15 Indian streaming services and digital content companies including Amazon Prime Video, Netflix, Disney+ Hotstar, Zee5 had agreed to adopt Universal Self-Regulation Code for Online Curated Content Providers (OCCPs). This government mandated-regulation prompted several media experts to state that this could have far-reaching consequences on creative expression in India, while others expressed fear of undue censorship. 

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