New Delhi: Nine video streaming players in India have decided to adopt a self-regulatory Code of Best Practices under the aegis of the Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI). In the works for over a year, the code attempts to protect consumer interest while offering viewers a variety of content choices and exercising creative freedom. It represents uniform principles and guidelines which will be adhered to by all signatories to the Code, in letter and spirit.

Hotstar, Voot, ZEE5, Arre, SonyLIV, ALT Balaji, Reliance Jio, Netflix and Eros Now have currently agreed to sign up to the code which comprises three main parts.

The first deals with what is prohibited on the platform-- child pornography, acts of terrorism and disrespect to national symbols. The second gives content creators the right to categorise content and classify the same into separate and distinct categories such as meant for general or universal viewing; content which requires parental guidance and/or content which is solely meant for age-appropriate audiences (such age-appropriate audience may be further sub-categorised into different age groups). It also requires that platforms display a content descriptor or guidance message that indicates and informs the viewer about nature of the content, particularly around age-inappropriate content for minors. The third is a grievance redressal mechanism whereby signatories agree to internally appoint or institute, as part of their operational systems, a dedicated person, team or department to receive and address any consumer-related concerns and complaints in relation to the content they are showcasing.

“Self-regulation encourages creativity and makes content creators more responsive to their viewers. It’s worked well for broadcast media and there’s no reason for it not to do so for curated video content. We are happy to be part of this industry initiative," said Ashok Nambissan, general counsel, Sony Pictures Networks India Pvt Ltd.

The signatories insist that while the final draft of the code has been aided by discussion with the government, there is no likelihood of consultation with officials on the kind of content that will ultimately be produced.

“We are not going to censor content. We completely understand the freedom of choice and benefit from it," said Thomas George, senior vice-president- legal, Viacom18.

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