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OTT players meet with I&B Minister on code of ethics rules

Our Bureau New Delhi | Updated on March 04, 2021

Information & Broadcasting Minister Prakash Javadekar   -  The Hindu

OTT players urge the I&B Ministry to give more time to adhere to the age-based classification mechanism

Representatives of the key OTT players on Thursday met with the Information & Broadcasting Minister Prakash Javadekar to discuss their concerns regarding the newly notified provisions of digital media code of ethics.

The Ministry clarified in the meeting that the government will not appoint any members in the self-regulatory body. As part of the three-tier grievance redressal mechanism, a six-member self-regulatory body will look into grievances of consumers with regard to content on OTT platforms consisting of experts and chaired by an eminent person or a retired High Court or Supreme Court judge.

The Ministry also reiterated that it expects the OTT industry to develop an effective grievance redressal mechanism.

Also read: States not empowered to administer digital media rules: I&B Ministry

Representatives from various platforms including Alt Balaji, Hotstar, Amazon Prime, Netflix, Jio, Zee5, Viacom18, Shemaroo, MxPlayer among others were present at the meeting.

The Ministry also clarified that the Inter-Departmental Committee, which will be part of the oversight mechanism, will only look into complaints which remain unresolved at the self-regulatory level.

Javadekar stated that he had received representations from cinema and TV industries that while there were regulations for them, none existed for OTT industry. Thus, it was decided that the government would come out with progressive institutional mechanism for OTT players and develop a level-playing field with the idea of self-regulation, an official statement added.

The Ministry has also clarified that there is no requirement of registration for OTT platforms and the provisions of the rules “merely require them to disclose information.” A form for this purpose will soon be made available by the Ministry.

More time sought

Sources said the OTT players have urged the I&B Ministry to give more time to the industry to adhere to the age-based classification mechanism that includes implementing parental locks for content classified as appropriate for ages 13 and above.

Under the new rules, OTT players need to self-classify content in five age-based categories which include U (Universal), A (Adult), U/A 7+, U/A 13+, U/A 13 + and U/A 16+ and A (Adult). OTT players also need to ensure a reliable age verification system mechanism for content classified as A.

OTT players also raised concerns regarding the various FIRs filed and ongoing legal cases based on complaints raised against content on their platforms. Sources said that now that a three-tier grievance redressal mechanism has been established, the OTT industry believes that complaints should be first addressed through this grievance process notified by the government.

Published on March 04, 2021

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