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Home / News / India /  I&B minister dispels myths around new rules in meeting with OTT players

New Delhi: The self-regulatory bodies formed by digital news publishers and over-the-top (OTT) video streaming platforms will not have any member appointed by the government, the information & broadcasting ministry clarified on Thursday. The I&B minister Prakash Javadekar met representatives of OTT platforms and dispelled myths around the digital media guidelines notified last week.

The ministry is open to clarifications and queries from the industry, the minister said adding that the latest rules only require platforms to disclose information, a form for which will be ready soon. It does not imply registering with the ministry in any way. Further, the rules focus on self-classification of content instead of any form of censorship and that OTT platforms are expected to develop an effective grievance redressal mechanism. The government will create an inter-departmental committee to look at complaints which remain unresolved at the self-regulatory level.

Representatives from OTT platforms such as Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, ALTBalaji, Disney+ Hotstar, Jio Cinema, ZEE5, Viacom18 (VOOT), ShemarooMe and MX Player attended the meeting.

Javadekar pointed out that the government had carried out several rounds of consultations with OTT players in the past and stressed the need for self-regulation besides stating that he had received representations from cinema and TV industries on the fact while there were regulations for them, none existed for the OTT 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," as statement from the I&B ministry said.

The government of India tightened its control over digital and OTT (over-the-top) platforms last week, introducing a three-tier mechanism that it termed as a ‘soft-touch regulatory architecture.’ While the first two tiers bring in place a system of self-regulation by the platform itself and by the self-regulating bodies of content publishers, the third calls for an oversight mechanism by the central government.

According to the latest directives, digital websites or content publishers will have to appoint a grievance redressal officer based in India who will be responsible for all grievances received and will decide on them within 15 days. Secondly, there may be one or more self-regulatory bodies of publishers with not more than six members; these will be headed by a retired judge of the Supreme Court, a High Court or by an independent eminent person.

Lastly, the I&B ministry will formulate an oversight mechanism and establish an inter-departmental committee for hearing grievances. Content on streaming platforms will be classified into five age-specific categories.

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