India's New OTT Rules
OTT platforms encourage creativity and small independent films to reach a wider audience. To live up to the word "Partly Free" the Govt announced new rules to regulate these platforms.
To quote Shekhar Gupta the Editor in chief of Print " This is a Government takeover of Journalism and free speech in India.
These rules, known as Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021, pertain to OTT platforms like Netflix and Amazon, social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and WhatsApp as well as digital news media organizations like Wire, The Print, News laundry, Quint, etc.
According to the New rules, OTT platforms and news portals will have to formulate a robust three-tier grievance redressal mechanism. The rules provide for two levels of self-regulation. First, self-regulation by the platform through a grievance redressal officer and, second, by an institutional self-regulatory body comprising industry experts and headed by a retired Supreme Court or High Court judge or other independent eminent personality in the relevant field.
This is followed by the third level of oversight through an interdepartmental committee constituted by the government. This committee will hear appeals arising out of decisions taken at level two, and if a complaint is referred to the committee by the Ministry of Information and Broadcast.
A big challenge for OTT platforms, while dealing with complaints, will be to steer around diverse sensibilities, cultures, and beliefs of the Indian audience and their demands for different genres of content.
It is also essential to not overlook the fact that content curation of OTT players offers ‘video-on-demand services, and curate content based on demands of viewers often analyzed basis viewership data and trends.
The Centre notified new guidelines for intermediaries saying these were needed to hold social media and other companies accountable for misuse and abuse. These will require Big Tech platforms to set up stronger grievance redressal mechanisms and appoint executives to coordinate with law enforcement in India. The guidelines essentially remove the safe harbor provided to these companies, it limited their liability over content that users on their platform.
The rules for OTT platforms also follow a “soft-touch self-regulatory architecture” and call for online digital news disseminating agencies to self-categorize their content into one of the five age-based broad categories.
“The publisher of online curated content shall prominently display the classification rating specific to each content or program together with a content descriptor informing the user about the nature of the content, and advising on viewer description (if applicable) at the beginning of every program, enabling the user to make an informed decision prior to watching the program,” Information & Broadcasting Minister Prakash Javadekar said.