Government brings OTTs and online news portals under the purview of I&B Ministry

OTT platforms and online news portals will now be regulated by the I&B Ministry as per a new order by the government. This regulation could change the content we see online.

OTT platforms like Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Disney+ Hotstar, and other services offering "audiovisual programmes" as well as online news portals and sites offering "current affairs" content have been brought under the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, according to a gazette order issued by the Government of India.

This comes after the Supreme Court sought the Centre's response last month regarding a petition for regulating OTT platforms. At present, there is no law or autonomous body governing online content in India.

The new regulation signed by President Ram Nath Kovind will come into force with immediate effect, according to the order.

It is being said that the government expedited the regulation after films started releasing directly on OTT platforms after the lockdown. (Film and TV content in India is already monitored by the I&B Ministry.)

Prior to this, in September, the I&B Ministry had turned down the self-regulation code floated by the Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI). About 17 OTT platforms in India had signed the "Universal Self-Regulation Code".

The signatories included Disney+ Hotstar, Amazon Prime Video, Netflix, MX Player, JioCinema, Eros Now, ALTBalaji, Arre, HoiChoi, Zee5, Viacom 18, Hungama, Shemaroo, Discovery Plus, Flickstree, SonyLIV, and Lionsgate.

IAMAI had said in a statement,

"The goal of this industry-wide effort is to empower consumers with information and tools to assist them in making informed choices with regard to viewing decisions for them and their families, while at the same time, nurturing creativity and providing creators the freedom to tell the finest stories. By aiming to do what is best for both consumers and creators as guiding principles, the Code intends for India to be one of the most dynamic and fastest growing entertainment industries in the world."

However, things stand to change with the new order, and self-regulation by OTTs is likely to give way to guidelines from the I&B Ministry. In fact, some of the content on OTT platforms could even be censored in future.

This is a developing story and we will update it with more details shortly.


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