17 OTT players adopt ‘toolkit’ for self-regulation

Our Bureau Mumbai | Updated on February 11, 2021

The move comes even as the govt has rejected the industry’s self-regulation code introduced in Sept

Seventeen online streaming providers have announced the adoption of an ‘implementation toolkit’, under the aegis of the Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI), which they say is in furtherance to the Universal Self-Regulation Code the body had introduced in September. The government had rejected this code.

The government has said that it will soon issue guidelines for the regulation of over the top (OTT) platforms. The code has been adopted by 17 online curated content providers: Amazon Prime Video, Netflix, ZEE5, Viacom 18 (Voot), Disney+Hotstar, SonyLiv, MX Player, Jio Cinema, Eros Now, Alt Balaji, Arre, HoiChoi, Hungama, Shemaroo, Discovery Plus, Aha and Lionsgate Play.

The tool kit is effective from February 10.

Provisions of the code

“The core purpose of this ‘tool kit’ is to provide for procedures to effectuate the various provisions of the code; assist the signatories in fulfilling their commitments and responsibilities as set out in the code; and to achieve effective self regulation goals as envisioned by the signatories in the code,” IAMAI said in a statement on Thursday.

The effort of the signatories, through this tool kit, is to also address feedback received from the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting inter-alia, on the issues of conflict of interest and prohibited content, the statement said.

The implementation toolkit will assist signatories in a “seamless transition” to self-regulation and guide them on dimensions like relevant laws of the land which will be adhered to by the signatories; fair and transparent functioning of the grievance redressal mechanism, with escalation to an advisory panel with independent members; training programs for creative and legal teams of OCCPs to enhance the knowledge and nuances of laws that govern content; awareness programs for consumers to help increase understanding and use of age rating; content descriptor and parental controls; and the implementation of a detailed audit and compliance mechanism, the IAMAI.

Entertainment industry

“The Universal Self Regulation Code, which is signed by the country’s top video streaming services marks a watershed moment in the history of the online streaming industry. Today, with the adoption of ‘Implementation Toolkit’, it further strengthens our (OCCPs) commitment to augment consumer empowerment and creative excellence for the Indian entertainment industry to grow multi-fold,” said Amit Goenka, Chair, Digital Entertainment Committee, IAMAI.

The tool kit amplifies all the critical points that were addressed in the code signed last year and aims to address feedback received from the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, particularly, on strengthening the grievance redressal mechanism, Goenka added.

“It further sets out clear tent poles that the OCCPs need to undertake to achieve a common goal of entertaining millions of Indians responsibly,” he said.

Nearly 15 leading OTT players, including Netflix, Disney+Hotstar and Amazon Prime Video, had come together under the aegis of the IAMAI to sign a self-regulation code in September, which was rejected by the government.

In a letter to IAMAI, the I&B Ministry asked the body to look at other self-regulatory models. The Ministry said the proposed self-regulatory mechanism lacked an independent third-party monitoring, that it does not have a well-defined code of ethics and nor does it clearly enunciate prohibited content. It also said there is an issue of conflict of interest at the second and third-tier level.

Published on February 11, 2021

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