In case you were not happy with how the India’s Ministry of Information and Broadcasting body handles the content that goes on TVs and cinema halls, the latest piece of news might just add to your disappointment. The I&B ministry will now also regulate content in OTT platforms and digital news outlets. This is done to keep stricter censorship on what goes on the web. This confirmation comes in the form of new rules signed by India’s President Ram Nath Kovind this week.
The government has issued an order bringing online news portals and content providers such as Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and Hotstar under the Information and Broadcasting ministry. The notification, signed by President Ram Nath Kovind, was issued on Monday. The government regulations also apply to the news on social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
In the gazette notification, the government stated that “Films and Audio-Visual programmes made available by online content providers” and “News and current affairs content on online platforms” will now fall under the I&B Ministry.
It is, however, not for sure of the ministry will directly be involved in this or will OTTs self-regulate and report to I&B, similar to what TV channels do.
However, for end-users, this means more censorship on content that show up on Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and other such platforms. The ministry already controls what content they have to clip from movies in theatres. Something similar might happen in OTTs as well.
It is worth adding that last year Information and Broadcasting Minister Prakash Javadekar said that the govt won’t take a step that will curb media freedom. However, he did say that there should be some kind of regulation. We are yet to see what guidelines if any, will the ministry put in place for regulating the OTT platform content.
Last month, the Supreme Court sought the centre’s response on a petition for regulating over-the-top or OTT platforms by an autonomous body. The top court issued notices to the centre, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting and Internet and Mobile Association of India.