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Rules focus on self-classification, not censorship: Javadekar tells OTTs

Javadekar met representatives of OTT platforms to address their concerns.

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KOLKATA: Minister of information and broadcasting Prakash Javadekar on Thursday held an interaction with representatives of various OTT platforms including from Disney+ Hotstar, Amazon Prime, Netflix, Jio, Zee5, Viacom18, Shemaroo, Mx Player, ALTBalaji.

The Union minister mentioned that the government had engaged in several rounds of consultation with OTT players in the past and stressed the need for self-regulation.

Javadekar stated that he had received representations from cinema and TV industries that while there were regulations for them, none existed for the video streaming industry. Thus, it was decided that the government would come out with a progressive institutional mechanism for OTT players and develop a level playing field with the idea of self-regulation. The minister appreciated that many OTT platforms had welcomed the rules.

Informing the industry representatives about the provisions of the rules, the minister said it merely requires them to disclose information and that there is no requirement of registration of any kind with the ministry. He added that a form for this will be ready soon. Quelling fears over curtailment of creative freedom, he stated that the new digital media rules focus on self-classification of content instead of any form of censorship. Further, OTT platforms are expected to develop an effective grievance redressal mechanism.

Previously, the Centre had proposed a three-tier mechanism for these platforms for content-related issues. The first tier would be officials appointed by these companies. As a second-tier, there would be a self-regulatory body that would address complaints. The third tier would be a government-appointed panel.

Dispelling rumours, the minister clarified that in the self-regulatory body, no member will be appointed by the government, and that an inter-departmental committee will be formed to look into complaints that remain unresolved at the self-regulatory level.

The industry representatives welcomed the rules and thanked the minister for addressing most of their concerns. Finally, the minister added that the ministry is open to any clarification or queries from the industry.

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