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I&B Ministry to meet industry leaders to discuss online video content regulation

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Amidst reports of government considering certification/censorship of online video content, the I &B Ministry will hold a second round of consultation next week with industry players, who are determined to oppose any pre-censorship on digital platform.

The I&B Ministry has invited all  online curated content providers (OCCPs), including Netflix, Amazon and Hotstar, through industry association, the Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) for consultation on the issue of regulation of online video content, as per a report in ET.

The meeting, slated for next week in Chennai, comes close on the heels of a similar consultation in Mumbai last month.

In October, PTI had quoted union minister for information and broadcasting Prakash Javadekar as saying that there should be some kind of regulation of OTT platforms on the lines of print and electronic media and films.

“I have sought suggestions on how to deal with this because there are regular feature films coming on OTT — good, bad and ugly. So how to deal with this, who should monitor, who should regulate?. There is no certification body for OTT platforms and likewise news portals also,” Javadekar was quoted as saying.

Earlier in September, Live mint has reported that I&B Ministry was looking to finalize a model for the certification of online video streaming content soon after Diwali.

However, any government attempt to regulate content on OTT, is bound to face stiff opposition from the industry, who believe that the existant IT Act 2000 and a voluntary self-regulatory code signed by major OTT players in January this year, are sufficient in dealing with any untoward situation.

Online vidoe streaming players like Netflix, Hotstar, Jio, Voot, Zee5, Arre, SonyLIV, ALT Balaji and Eros Now have signed a self-censorship code in January that prohibited these platforms from showing certain kinds of content and set up a redressal mechanism for customer complaints.

The self-regulation code, bars video players from showing content that’s banned by Indian courts, disrespects the national emblem and flag, outrages religious sentiments, promotes terrorism or violence against State and shows children in sexual acts. Amazon, however, is not part of the self-regulatory code signed under the aegis of IAMAI.

“We should publish a list of all the laws that apply to OCCP platforms so that there is no is perception that OCCPs are not regulated,” Gowree Gokhale, head of Telecom, Media and Technology practice at Nishith Desai Associates, which is part of the consultation process, was quoted as saying by ET.

However, despite the presence of a self-regulatory code, there have been an array of PILs in court demanding regulation of online video content.

In May, the Supreme Court had issued a notice to the Centre on an appeal to regulate content on online streaming platforms.

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