What are the impacts of bringing the top OTT platforms under the ambit of Ministry of Information and Broadcasting?

LJCS: Legal Journal for Contemporary Society

Introduction

In the wake of Covid-19 situation, OTT platform has increased the popularity of streaming platforms like Netflix, Amazon prime, hot star, etc., and it has constantly been growing in India. The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting has brought the online media under its ambit on 9th November 2020 issued a notification under Government of India. The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting’s Jurisdiction and Control related to the films and audiovisual programmes made available by online content providers and new and current affairs on online platforms. The change in the regulatory for OTT platforms and digital media has been introduced by the Government of India that states Three Hundred and Fifty-Seventh Amendment Rules, 2020.

Amendment Brought by the Notification

As per the notification issued by the Central Government (Allocation of Business) has been amended under the second schedule of sub-heading VA, i.e. Digital or Online Media and the following entries:

1. The films and audiovisual programmes made available by online content providers;

2. News and current affairs on online platforms.

The second schedule under the Rule has nine categories under the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting policy and administration, cable television policy, radio, films, press, publicity, etc. The new sub-heading under the second schedule of VA includes the category of films. Thus, the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting shall have the power to regulate policies for OTT platform

Universal Self- Regulation Code for Online Curated Content Provider:

In September 2020, the Universal Self-Regulation Code for Online Curated Content Provider was signed by the Government. Under the Information Technology Act, the word Self-Regulation Code was well defined as the primary governing statute for online content. It was stated that online media and content on online media were guided by the principles of ‘Right to Freedom of Speech and Expression’ under Article 19 of India’s Constitution. The Self-Regulation Code has been contemplated that there should be

1. A framework for age classification

2. Appropriate content descriptions

3. Appropriate access control

The Government rejected the Self-Regulation Code, but it was rejected because the proposed self-regulatory mechanisms lack independent third party monitoring and do not have Code of Ethics, prohibit content and conflict of interest. The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting observed a conflict in the advisory panel constituted of the Online Curated Content Provider itself rather than having an independent organisation. Thus the Government advised IAMAI to look at the Self-Regulatory structure adopted by the Broadcasting Content Complaints Council (BCCC) and News Broadcasting Standard Authority (NBSA) for guidance.



Consumption of Media and Distribution in India

India is one of the most dynamic entertainment markets. According to the research World, Economic Forum, online media is rapidly increasing, and people are willing to pay for entertainment. The investment made on the OTT platform towards India’s creation and production focused on the Indian market and global projects created due to covid-19 situation that brought a vast change in the people’s lives. However, the Central Government is still working on the OTT platform to adopt a code of content or censorship enacted by the Self-Regulatory structure model adopted by NBSA or BCCC.

The Amendment of Rules is made under the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting under its ambit regarding notifying its own rules and regulation, the scope and content of the censorship. The legal regime’s impact would change views for the video streaming sector if MIB notified these rules. Many market players adhere that online content should be stated within the prescribed limit; the online media should be restricted to freedom of speech and expression under Article 19 of the Indian Constitution.




India is promoting western culture, as OTT platform is one of the oldest platforms outside India. In the pandemic situation the closure of theatres and cinema, the world was shut down due to communicable disease. The number of Bollywood and Hollywood movies released via OTT platform leads cinema and theatres at a big loss. In India, domestic theatrical contributes almost 60% of revenue for sponsorship. OTT platform would continue to invest in original movies and web series, but it will not come at the cost of theatrical response that would harm India’s economy.

Economical Point of View:

Government is revising their laws to ensure that traditional values and economy of our country remain protected. The western culture is brought in India, but it should not harm the countries own values and beliefs. As we have known the world was shut down, the economy’s hit was constantly decreasing, creating a problem in every individual life. Notification for guidelines has been made for online and linear content.

The massive growth in digital video consumption in India, the Government is amending the rules and policies under the Ministry of Information as broadcasting. However, the OTT platform should be restricted at a certain level because it is concerned about national security and unity. It states that online content providers should have a clear vision of their content. It restricts any content inciting violence or promoting anti-national attitudes.

Impact of OTT Platform in India

OTT platform becomes a game-changer in the Entertainment and Media Industry. Online media made a convenient and affordable change in people’s lives across a wider segment of users. Due to the lockdown and current state of the economy, OTT seems to be the next normal for the world of entertainment. The linear film industry has been suffering the burden of movie theatres. Thus, the ongoing and new projects are on hold, but OTT platforms’ development has immense opportunity in the upcoming scenario. The impact on financial services, e-commerce and automotive industries has given efficient importance for online media.



Enlighten for consumers and producers:

The trend of OTT platform has been increased in the following ways:

1. OTT platform can be easily accessible from their home, do the demand for high-quality content is increasing on a day to day basis.

2. The advertisement industry is building high-quality content with cheaper price in the market.

3. YouTube is one of the oldest platforms in online media. Similarly, new production houses are in-built in India for Online Content providers.

4. The closure of theatre became a loss in the market, but the importance of OTT platform gives rise in the production houses.

5. The merger of OTT platform and film Industry might be discomfort among the big players, but a new era of online media showed the importance of India’s social life.

6. The importance of time is for the key investors to think about the integration of technologies.

7. Minimisation of risk can be made by showing movies through OTT platform.

8. Release of any series or movie via OTT channel can eliminate piracy threat that can be faced in India. Thus, the mass availability of content can eliminate the necessity of piracy.

Conclusion

OTT platform, sooner or later, will bring an immense change in the upcoming world. The production house would realise that online media is not adverse. The advancement of new technology can be survived in the OTT platform, and it would become a new normal, where everyone can easily access the latest series or movies. Personalisation of content, opinions and recommendation can be made based on the online media. The industry would expand creativity into the market and expand India’s censorship scope and content. Users could have their personal choice to watch on the OTT platform.

- Kopal Khanna,
LL.B. Student,
Savitribai Phule Pune University

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