New Delhi: Even as the threat of the Internet no longer being a free medium becomes real, India seems to have given its mandate. More than half of the people in India (57%) think censorship is required for content on online streaming platforms such as Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Hotstar and others, according to a new research by international Internet-based market research and data analytics firm YouGov.
27% of the people think it is not required while one in six (16%) are unsure of it.
Data used for the research was collected from around 1005 respondents in India between 22-28 October, 2019 using YouGov’s panel of over six million people worldwide. Data is representative of the adult online population in the country.
The ministry of information and broadcasting (I&B) is looking to finalize a model for the certification of online video streaming content soon. While nine video streaming sites in India had decided to adopt a self-regulatory Code of Best Practices under the aegis of the Internet and Mobile Association of India (Iamai) earlier this year, a couple of latest shows like Leila on Netflix and Gandii Baat on ALTBalaji have raised concerns in the corridors of power.
According to the latest research, the older age cohorts are more likely to affirm to content regulation than the younger ones. Amongst all the age groups, GenX or those born between the early-to-mid 1960s to the early 1980s,are most likely to say censorship is needed while GenZ or those born between the mid-90s to early 2000s, are least likely to say so (66% versus 35%).
In general, an overwhelming majority of Indians support some form of content censorship. Nine in ten (91%) said content- either on TV, films or online, should be regulated by the government, either always (40%) or sometime (51%). Men are more likely than women to say they want content to be regulated always (45% versus 34%) while women are more likely to want censorship sometime (56% versus 46%).
59% feel a lot of offensive content unsuitable for public viewing is being created nowadays and hence should be censored. Almost as many (57%) fear that inappropriate content can have an adverse impact on children. Close to half (47%) find it uncomfortable to watch certain type of content around family and hence want some regulation, the research says.
Even though majority (57%) think content censorship in important, many (36%) believe regulation should only be for mass mediums like TV and films but not for online mediums.
When asked about the likely effects of content regulation for online streaming platforms, close to half (47%) said they feel better quality content will be created as well as watched by people due to this change. However, some people point at the disadvantages- piracy and illegal downloading will increase (32%) and the quality of content will suffer as a result (30%).
When it comes to the possible impact on viewership, people in India are equally divided. 29% think censorship will lead to increase in viewership on online streaming platforms but almost as many (28%) think the opposite- it will decrease tune-ins into these platforms.
People in West India are most likely to feel the negative impact strongly. Compared to the other regions, not only do more people in this region (37%) think this move will lead to a slump in online viewership, just as many (38%) feel the quality of content will suffer as well due to this move.