Credible mechanism of self-regulation needed in OTT sector: I&B Ministry

Meenakshi Verma Ambwani New Delhi | Updated on December 17, 2020

In order to protect consumers from inappropriate content

The Information & Broadcasting Ministry believes that the fast-growing OTT industry must work towards establishing a “credible mechanism” of self-regulation for protecting consumers, especially children, from age-inappropriate content and enabling consumers to make informed choices.

Referring to the concerns expressed on the government’s recent move to bring content streamed on OTT platforms and digital media under the purview of the Ministry, Vikram Sahay, Joint Secretary, I&B Ministry, said that this move should not lead to any scepticism in the industry.

Speaking at a panel discussion at a CII event on Thursday, Sahay said, “Government is a partner and will work with the industry to support the long-term growth of the sector. There have been several apprehensions expressed regarding the Centre’s move to amend the allocation of business and give the Ministry the mandate to look at matters related to content on OTT platforms and digital media. This should not in anyway lead to any sense of scepticism.”

Sahay said the Ministry has had several rounds of discussions with the industry players since last year on the need for a model of self-monitoring or self-regulation to protect consumers especially children from content that can make them vulnerable.

Sahay also pointed that currently not all OTT platforms in the country follow practices of age-classification and content descriptors to enable consumers to make informed viewing decisions. “We need to have a credible mechanism in place to protect children through age-ratings and age-gating. We will continue to be in touch with the industry to work out a model which is acceptable to all of us,” he added.

A self-regulation model

“Such concerns are uniform across the world and several countries are grappling with these challenges. There are various models in countries such as Australia, Singapore and UK and learnings can be taken to adopt global best practices. Also technology tools can be used to enable a more disciplined environment so that content which is prohibited or unpalatable should not be appear on the platforms,” he added. He pointed out that already there is a self-regulation model in place for the TV industry in the country,while the Press Council Of India looks into issues concerning the print media sector.

In September this year, the Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) had stated that a slew of OTT platforms have come together as signatories for adoption of the Universal Self-Regulation Code.

Speaking at the panel discussion , Gourav Rakshit, COO, Viacom18 Digital Ventures, said that 18 players have come together to become signatories of the self-regulation code and the industry is in the process of implementation of the code.

He added that the industry will leverage on global learnings as well as technology resources to establish a more robust framework of self-regulation.

Gaurav Gandhi, Director and Country General Manager, Amazon Prime Video, added that the focus will be on having the right balance of giving consumers choice and information, giving the creators the freedom to create good content while respecting consumer sensitivities.

Published on December 17, 2020

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