Govt tightens grip over OTT content, announces self-regulatory body

Topics OTT platforms | Netflix | Amazon

Photo: ANI
OTT platforms should self-classify the content into five age based categories --- U (Universal), U/A, (people above 7 years), U/A above (13 years), U/A (above 16 years), and A (all the adults),  said the government on Thursday while announcing guidelines for these platforms.

"Platforms would be required to implement parental locks for content classified as U/A 13+ or higher, and reliable age verification mechanisms for content classified as A," it said. 

The publisher of online curated content would also be required to display the classification rating specific to each content or programme 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 programme enabling the user to make an informed decision, prior to watching the programme.

OTT platforms and digital media must also be sensitive to multi-religious content and shall exercise due caution when featuring activities, practices of any racial or religious group, it said.  

The government also said OTT platforms must have self regulatory body/ies and it must be headed by a retired judge of the Supreme Court, a High Court or independent eminent person and have not more than six members. 

"Such a body will have to register with the ministry of information and broadcasting. This body will oversee the adherence by the publisher to the Code of Ethics and address grievances that have not be been resolved by the publisher within 15 days,"

Notifing the new guidelines for regulating digital media and OTT platforms in the country, the government said that after widespread concerns about issues relating to digital content both on digital media and OTT platforms, many have voiced their concerns about the imperative need for an appropriate institutional mechanism.

The new guidelines named as "Digital Media Ethics Code Relating to Digital Media and OTT Platforms" are administered by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting.

Meanwhile, digital media news platforms would be required to observe norms of journalistic conduct of the Press Council of India (PCI). The government says it provides a level playing field between the offline (Print, TV) and digital media.

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