In a recent move, the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting has brought all kinds of Digital/Online Media including Over the Top (OTT) Platforms under its ambit, according to the notification S.O. 4040(E) dated November 9, 2020,1 issued by the Government of India. In an interview to a newspaper daily, a ministry official said the move was taken to ensure a level playing field for all media, and bring an "enabling regulatory environment so that all digital players adhere to the laws of the land. Some content on certain platforms has caused a lot of problems to the citizens of the country who don't even have a grievance redressal platform. There have been at least 40 court cases where the government had to make an appearance. Courts have also urged the ministry to have a regulatory mechanism. We have been working on that with stakeholders."2
The notification includes the following under the umbrella of Digital/Online Media:
- Films and Audio-Visual programs are made available by online content providers.
- News and current affairs content on online platforms
To date, there was no law regulating digital content in India. However, with this notification in place, the government will now control the online content.
Previously, in September 2020, fifteen Indian streaming services and digital companies released the "Universal Self-Regulation Code for Online Curated Content Providers".3 Though, the government expressed displeasure at the model proposed by the Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI). The model was largely rejected because it did not define the code of ethics and was not clear on the definition of prohibited content. The IAMAI was asked to look into the model followed by the News Broadcasting Standards Authority (NBSA) and Broadcasting Content Complaints Council (BCCC).4
With the new notification in place, it would be interesting to see the impact it will have and the changes it would bring in the arena of digital media.
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