Media regulation that is quite over the top
Mains: G.S. II Social Justice and Issues of current importance
- Government has issued a gazette notification in which govt has shown intent to regulate the over the top video streaming platforms like amazon prime, Netflix, hotstar.
- The government’s move bringing online news and current affairs portals along with “films and audio visual programmes made available by online content providers.
- This is an attack on the free press, targeted at a section that has been bold and forthright in speaking truth to power.
- It seeks to divide and rule the press by creating an artificial distinction between the new age digital media (the stand alone news portals which are already struggling to stay afloat) — which is the media of the future, the media of the millennial generation — and the older print and TV news media.
- The Covid 19 pandemic has impacted every single industry, but the businesses that were most affected are those which solely rely on social gathering of people and the media and entertainment industry is not an exception.
- However, Over the Top (OTT) platforms such as Netflix, Hotstar, Prime Video and online gaming are booming in this time of crisis, thereby testifying the ongoing information revolution.
- Though the Indian media landscape has traditionally been very dynamic, the issue of content regulation has always been important in India because of the diverse nature of Indian society in terms of religion, economic status, caste and language.
Issues related to OTT Platforms
- Lack of Regulation: While traditional media in India are regulated under specific laws such as:
- Films are regulated under the Cinematograph Act of 1952—which provides for the certification of cinematograph films for public exhibition.
- The Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Act, 1995 —that applies to content appearing on cable televisions.
- Censorship Problem: Generally, the Government in India censors the content on grounds of public morality, communal harmony or cultural preservation, among various reasons.
- However, due to the lack of censorship, content on OTT platforms can disrupt social harmony and moral fabric of society.
- No Consensus of Self Regulation: OTT platforms had signed a self-regulation code under the aegis of the Internet and Mobile Association of India. However, there’s no consensus on the code amongst the various OTT platforms operating in India.
- Cultural Homogenisation: India is projected to become the second largest online video-viewing audience by 2020. In this context, OTT platforms are streaming a lot of cross-cultural content.
- While the government recognizes the need for self-regulation in OTT, it wants video streaming platforms to agree to a common code.
- Besides, there is a need to include online content explicitly within the ambit of this common code which will prohibit indecency in video streaming,advertisements, books, films, paintings, and writings etc.