In its letter, the health ministry said that films and TV programmes streamed using internet like Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hotstar, Voot and Hungama among others are ‘not fully compliant’ to anti-tobacco rules. Photol: Reuters (Reuters)
In its letter, the health ministry said that films and TV programmes streamed using internet like Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hotstar, Voot and Hungama among others are ‘not fully compliant’ to anti-tobacco rules. Photol: Reuters (Reuters)

Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hotstar may soon have to display anti-tobacco warnings

The health ministry writes to Trai to issue an advisory to online streaming companies, like Netflix, Amazon Prime, among others, to comply with anti-tobacco rules

New Delhi: Digital streaming services like Netflix, Hotstar and Amazon Prime may soon have to display messages and warnings during scenes showing use of tobacco products.

The health ministry has written to the telecom regulator to issue an advisory to online movie and TV programme streaming companies to comply with anti-tobacco rules and display messages and warnings during scenes showing tobacco products or their use. The letter came after the ministry observed violation of anti-tobacco rules by these companies.

“While the rules are well implemented in films screened in movie theatres, the films and TV programmes streamed using internet like Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hotstar, Voot and Hungama among others are ‘not fully compliant’ to these rules," the letter from the ministry of health and family welfare to the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) stated. Mint has reviewed a copy of the letter.

As per the rules, all films and TV programmes, while displaying tobacco products or their use, are required to run anti-tobacco health spots of minimum 30 seconds at the beginning and middle of the programme, the letter further said.

Also, the rules mandate display of anti-tobacco health warning as a prominent static message at the bottom of the screen during the period of display of the tobacco products or their use in the television programmes.

The letter also mentioned that they are also required to submit a strong editorial justification explaining the necessity of display of tobacco products or their usage in the film to the Central Board of Film Certification.

An audio visual disclaimer on the ill-effects of tobacco use in the beginning and middle of the film or television programmes is also necessary. They should be of minimum 20 seconds duration each, the letter stated.

The Union health ministry notified the Cigarettes and other Tobacco Products (Prohibition of Advertisement and Regulation of Trade and Commerce,Production, Supply and distribution) (second amendment rules) 2011 and 2012 to regulate the depiction of tobacco products or their use in films and TV programmes.

Earlier this year in February, noticing that television programmes were breaking rules under the Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products Act (COTPA), the Union ministry along with the ministry of information and broadcasting had said that they are planning to put in place a mechanism to monitor telecast that display tobacco products or their use.

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