Netflix, Hotstar, TIL, Zee5 bat for voluntary censorship code; Amazon and Facebook oppose

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OTT platforms like Netflix, Hotstar, Reliance Jio and others are contemplating taking a big step whereby they voluntarily adopt a custom censor code that regulates the content violating rules set by Indian Court and government, disrespects Indian Flag and the national emblem, can create religious outrage, or promotes terrorism or violence against the State, and shows children in sexual acts.

The mechanism of this code implies that there will be a redressal mechanism that addresses complaints sent by viewers in case there is any such violation. This mechanism is likely to evolve into an adjudicatory board resolving consumer complaints, reports ET citing anonymous sources.

While most these platform denied to comment on this probable development, it is in reports that Video-on-Demand platforms look at voluntary censorship as a means to avoid official diktats by the government regulating their content and maintain a certain level of autonomy.

The code isn’t ready yet and the adoption isn’t finalised, but highly likely. Zee5, Times Internet, and Alt Balaji are also in the favour of this move.

Amazon, Facebook, and Google oppose this sentiment and fear that this move would create a “dangerous” precedent for regulating the internet and take away the autonomy that should ideally lie with the creator of the content.

Other forms of opposition entail that this will create a nervous environment on the internet and turning it into a government appeasing space that agrees with internet regulation, and that this move is swayed by players who want the OTT platforms to be on the same level as broadcasters.

As Karan Bedi, founder and CEO of MX Player told ET, applying broadcast regulations on the internet is an absurd move. These two are drastically different spaces with different audiences, and as per other sources the discussion did not involve content creators.

Bedi feels that the code should only involve guiding principles as the business strategies and revenue models are different for different OTT platforms.

The implications of this could imply that abusive, and crass, but unapologetically honest original content can be rendered a victim of this censoring creating a disappointment in the masses, and the traffic could transfer from the platforms that adopt this code the platforms that don’t.

At the top, if Netflix adopts these guidelines and confirms to Indian rules, and Amazon doesn’t, the dominance of latter in the market may solidify.

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