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OTT Platforms Should Be Accountable For Obscene Content: IT Minister
OTT platforms have become the go-to place for entertainment, especially since last year. With theaters shut down, new releases have found home in OTT platforms. However, unlike theater releases, OTTs have no particular regulation for the content. However, things have begun to change, at least in India, where OTT platforms will now need to adhere to the new set of rules introduced in the Parliament.
Complaints Rise Against OTT Platforms
Platforms like Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, and Hotstar have been involved in several lawsuits in the recent past. Particularly in India, there have been a rising number of complaints against Netflix and Amazon Prime Video about obscene content. Moreover, there have been complaints that the content aired on OTTs hurt religious sentiments.
In one of the recent incidents, the police interrogated a top Amazon Prime Video executive for hours over a show that allegedly hurt religious beliefs. Soon after, Amazon was forced to issue an apology for hurting people's religious sentiments and a few scenes of the show were also deleted.
New Rules For OTT Platforms
India has been tightening the grip on several platforms including e-commerce, social media, and now OTT. The new "Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code" are the set of new rules introduced by the Indian government concerning social media like Facebook and Twitter.
The new guidelines also extend to OTT platforms, which now makes them responsible for the content they stream. As part of the new rules, platforms like Netflix and Amazon Prime Video will need to classify content based on viewer's age. To note, most of the original series and movies on OTTs come with an age rating.
That's not all; OTTs will also need to address complaints and grievances issued by the public. The new rules also mandate video streaming platforms and other tech companies to set up a grievance redressal mechanism. This includes appointing new executives to coordinate with law enforcement and address the complaints raised.
Further, the grievance resolution system will be a three-tier one, starting with the executive at the OTT platform and ends at a government-appointed panel, which will be headed by a ministry official. The Indian government notes this ensures a complete redressal of any complaint or grievance raised by the public.
What Does It Mean For OTTs?
OTT platforms have largely enjoyed the freedom of expression for years now. Several Netflix and Amazon Prime Video shows have been daring and obvious with their content, which has appealed to the masses as well. However, with more people raising issues with OTT content, the government has decided to address the issue.
More recently, Indian technology minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said OTTS need to be "responsible and accountable" for the content they show. India is a tolerant country, "But the limits of tolerance and standards of tolerance should not be judged on the creating freedom or abuse of a particular producer of an OTT platform." For all we know, OTT content could soon come under the censor board, which further dilutes the content OTTs are known for.