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Lens of regulation is more important: Uday Shankar on OTT platforms

Consumers are way ahead of the regulators, he comments

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KOLKATA: ‘Will OTT platforms be put on leash?’ is the question being discussed and debated lately, especially after being brought under the ambit of the ministry of information and broadcasting (MIB). It is very much evident that the industry will have some regulatory framework sooner or later but what matters is the regulatory lens, as Star & Disney India president Uday Shankar said at the HT Leadership Summit 2020.

“More than anything else, it is an official decision. I don’t really think it matters. What is important is what will be the lens of regulation. Do we really want to be over-prescriptive or do we want creativity and imagination to have a role in this?" Shankar commented on the matter of government monitoring OTT content.

According to him, the country and consumers have always been way ahead of where the government and regulators believe they are. They are far more open and mature but regulators assume that a huge filter needs to be applied before they consume content.

However, he cautioned that global streaming services must not be insensitive to India’s diversity and culture by offering content simply tailored to grab eyeballs. “I’m not a fan of censorship, I don’t believe in it…the kind of gratuitous content, the amount of sex, abusive language or violence, even though it is part of all our lives…a lot of the times it is just done to pander to attention," he said.

In light of the recent controversies and calls for boycott of certain OTT platforms over shows that purportedly wounded religious sentiments, Shankar averred that foreign players need to take some responsibility for the content they put out, because in the end, India is a sensitive country.

“We should not take the freedom for granted. I think this is what happens when the global services come into the country and disregard everything. They believe that what works in one country can work in every country. This is the backlash,” he noted.

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