I&B ministry wants OTT contents under its purview
The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (I&B) has proposed bringing under its purview the contents being streamed on the several over-the-top (OTT) platforms, said a top ministry official said on Tuesday.
At present, OTT platforms that are digitally streamed falls under the domain of the Ministry of Information and Technology (IT).
"OTT being a digital platform will fall under the purview of the Ministry of IT, but now we are proposing a decision that the content should fall within the purview of I&B ministry, said Amit Khare, Secretary, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting.
He said, "there is a need for convergence of various ministries (in this regard), particularly in the ways changes are happening, (it) is extremely necessary."
Khare rued that regulatory regimes in India have been developed as per the platforms, and the country has no regulations as of now for the emerging media like OTT players.
Out of "five different media — print, radio, TV, films, and OTT — four of them have certain kinds of regulatory practices and one is unregulated", he said, adding that currently a film released on OTT is not covered under the Central Board of Film Certification as it not exhibited as a film there.
Recently during the lockdown, several OTT platforms such as Netflix, Amazon Prime, Zee5, and ALTBalaji have witnessed a huge jump in their subscription.
As movie halls are also closed due to lockdown, several production houses have released their movie directly on OTT, bypassing theatrical releases.
While talking about the convergence, he said telecom, and media and entertainment should be on equal footing in terms of adjusted gross revenue (AGR).
"What happens to AGR in telecom has to be applicable in the M&E sector. We cannot have two different rates of AGR for the telecom sector and the M&E sector for DTH providers. So, there is a need for convergence, the secretary said.
He also stressed on the need to have a level-playing field, but quickly added that this does not mean that all would be brought under a very heavy regulatory structure.
The focus of the government in the last few years has been on "less regulation, but more effective regulation."
Khare, who also holds the HRD secretary portfolio, said, now the role of online platforms in the education sector has expanded after the pandemic.
He said there is also a need to link human resources development with media and entertainment, as post-pandemic there will be several videos on online learning. "In this sector, we can easily transform India's education," Khare said.