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OTT players oppose I&B ministry-backed regulation model


A large number of over-the-top (OTT) companies have expressed their reservation about the Information and Broadcasting (I&B) Ministry instruction to set up a self-regulatory body and have a fixed code of conduct within 100 days.

The companies believe that there already are laws such as the Information Technology Act and the Cable Act to look after objectionable content and the industry should not be burden with an additional body like Digital Content Complaint Council (DCCC), which was formed last month by IAMAI.

The development comes after Information and Broadcasting Minister Prakash Javadekar met OTT firms executives on Monday and asked the industry to set up an adjudicatory body and finalise a code of conduct within 100 days.

The meet was attended by executives of ALTBalaji, Hotstar, Voot, Jio, SonyLIV, Arre, Netflix, Amazon Prime, Zee5 and MX Player, among others. As of now, Hotstar, Voot, Jio and SonyLIV have signed the code.

According to sources present at the event, Amazon Prime had expressed its reservation about the proposal whereas Arre, Netflix, Zee5, MX player and ALTBalaji have sought more time to deliberate.

“We believe that proper age classifications and appropriate show descriptors are the right way to empower viewers to make informed decisions. While we completely respect the step taken by various industry players to arrive at a common platform to address consumer grievances, a larger, mutually agreeable solution is pertinent and urgent need of the hour, after seeking collective views from all stakeholders operating within the video streaming business, including content creators and distribution platforms,” Tarun Katial, CEO of ZEE5 India, told Entrackr.

Karan Bedi, CEO of MX Player, said that the ministry should first align all the stakeholders on the same page.

“Everyone including the ministry agreed that any mechanism finally should be formulated in consultation with the whole industry including the creators. The whole industry should be aligned on it,” he said.

A spokesperson for AltBalaji said that they are still studying the documents and will not comment at this stage.

A response from Amazon Prime is still awaited. We will update the post as and when they reply.

In February, IAMAI had released its second online curated content provider code saying that it will set up a body called the DCCC after being urged by the I&B ministry to do so.

The DCCF, which will be acting as a single point of contact for all complaints from users, will provide guidance to the platform on the classification of content and descriptors.

The draft content code will apply and extend to all members of the online curated content industry, who are signatories to this code and agree to abide by and affirm the principles and norms contained within this code.

The signatories will not make available content which promotes disrespect to the sovereignty and integrity of India, simulated sexual activities, terrorism, content barred by a court of competent jurisdiction.

The OTT platforms will be liable for any non-compliance of the code. It will be the duty of the DCCF to acknowledge a complaint within three working days and resolve it within 10 days from the date of receipt.

The intent of this initiative is to offer the consumer a platform to air grievances, make informed choices and allow platforms freedom to create content. Unlike the first version of the content code, this version imposes a financial penalty of Rs 3 lakh on defaulters.

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