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About 15 video streaming platforms operating in the country had come together under the aegis of the IAMAI to sign a code of self-regulation earlier this month. Photo Imaging: Kishore Rawat
About 15 video streaming platforms operating in the country had come together under the aegis of the IAMAI to sign a code of self-regulation earlier this month. Photo Imaging: Kishore Rawat

OTT players willing to work with government to retool IAMAI self-regulation code

  • This week, the ministry of information and broadcasting wrote to IAMAI saying the latter should look at other self-regulatory models since the government does not support the current one

New Delhi: Video streaming players in India may be disheartened with the government’s crackdown on the space and its refusal to support the self-regulation code floated by the Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI), but are willing to continue talks to arrive at the same page.

“We'll have to look at the comments and understand the issues. I cannot comment on behalf of the industry, but I can say that the industry has always worked with the government to arrive at mutually amicable solutions," Hiren Gada, chief executive officer at Shemaroo Entertainment that runs the ShemarooMe app said.

A senior executive from a streaming platform said on condition of anonymity that the need is more to control social media rather than OTT at this point.

“The self-regulation model is time tested in India for decades. Social media needs some guidelines for freedom of speech perhaps. But overall, officially for us it’s a scenario of wait and watch," the person said.

About 15 video streaming platforms operating in the country had come together under the aegis of the IAMAI to sign a code of self-regulation earlier this month. Echoing the government’s call for self-regulation and not censorship or intervention, the OTT services had formulated a framework for age classification, appropriate content description and access control.

The code also said there will be a grievance redressal mechanism through either a consumer complaints department or advisory panel of which persons specializing in fields such as, gender equality, child rights, etc can also act as independent members. Platforms on board included Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Disney+ Hotstar, ALTBalaji, ZEE5, Arre, Discovery+, Eros Now, Flickstree, Hoichoi, Hungama, MX Player, Shemaroo, VOOT, Jio Cinema, SonyLIV and Lionsgate Play.

Netflix and Hoichoi declined to comment on the story while several other players did not respond.

This week, the ministry of information and broadcasting wrote to IAMAI saying the latter should look at other self-regulatory models since the government does not support the current one.

“In the self-regulatory mechanism which has..been constituted, it is observed that there is no classification of prohibited content, the second tier (advisory panel) is constituted by OCCP (online curated content providers) itself (as against an independent organisation like DCCP or the Digital Curated Content Complaints Council proposed earlier)," the ministry stated adding that out of three advisory panel members “two will be from OCCP itself, while there will only be one independent member (who will be in a minority)".

MIB said that IAMAI had earlier suggested “a two-tier structure as part of the self-regulatory regime, the second tier being the Digital Curated Content Complaints Council (DCCCC) along with enumeration of prohibited content". It said that “with regard to DCCCC, it had been proposed that the same would be chaired by a retired judge of the Supreme Court or High Court".

The proposed self-regulatory mechanism lacks independent third-party monitoring, does not have a well-defined Code of Ethics, does not clearly enunciate prohibited content, and at the second and third-tier level there is an issue of conflict of interest, the MIB letter says.

The IAMAI has therefore been “advised" to look at the structures of the Broadcasting Content Complaints Council (BCCC) and News Broadcasting Standards Authority (NBSA) “as guiding principles for developing a credible self-regulatory and grievance redressal mechanism" for OCCPs.

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