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NEW DELHI : Union minister of information and broadcasting Prakash Javadekar on Tuesday said guidelines and directives for OTT (over-the-top) platforms are almost ready.

Javadekar said this in Rajya Sabha after Jharkhand lawmaker Mahesh Poddar said internet penetration, covid-induced lockdown and shutdown of movie theatres had pushed video streaming platforms such as Netflix to the fore, that could adversely impact the young generation and serve as an attack on Indian culture and values. He said irrespective of language, OTT offerings are usually demeaning towards women.

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“The issues raised by Mahesh Poddar are important, we get several complaints and suggestions in regard to these platforms every day. The guidelines and directions are almost ready and will be implemented very soon," Javadekar said.

The central government had brought digital audio-visual content, including films and web shows, on over-the-top (OTT) streaming platforms, as well as news and current affairs on online platforms under the ambit of the ministry of information and broadcasting in November 2020. Poddar pointed to the order that came close to three months ago, adding that delay in regulating these platforms would be undesirable.

While OTT services have received much flak earlier for shows such as Leila, Sacred Games, Ghoul and XXX, two recent web shows, Tandav and Mirzapur 2, both on Amazon Prime Video, have also ruffled feathers. FIRs were first lodged against the Tandav team in different parts of the country, soon after its launch last month.

Haryana home minister Anil Vij also said the show has hurt religious sentiments and the I&B ministry should make a provision wherein no web series can be released without the censor board scrutiny. Eventually, the Tandav team agreed to make changes to portions found objectionable, making it the first show to officially modify content since OTT was brought under the I&B purview.

The Supreme Court had also issued notice to the makers, Amazon Prime and the centre on a petition that called for a ban on Mirzapur, alleging it “maligns the image of Uttar Pradesh."

After several hints from the government, 15 OTT platforms had come together under the aegis of the Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) in September 2020 to sign a code of self-regulation, formulating a framework for age classification, appropriate content description and access control. The ministry, however, rejected the code and asked IAMAI to look at other mechanisms which allow for an independent monitoring organisation like the Digital Curated Content Complaints Council (DCCCC) along with enumeration of prohibited content.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Lata Jha

Lata Jha covers media and entertainment for Mint. She focuses on the film, television, video and audio streaming businesses. She is a graduate of the Columbia School of Journalism. She can be found at the movies, when not writing about them.
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