In confirmation of the information already doing the rounds, some online video streaming services have agreed to impose self-regulation on the contents they stream and to setup an internal regulatory system, much like the media industry has done. It is expected that the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting may go with this proposal as well.
Those who have given their in-principle approval to join this self-regulated regime are said to be Netflix, Hotstar, Reliance Jio, Zee5, AltBalaji, Sony-Liv and MX Player, the last one owned by the Times Group. It is reported in the same breath that Google, Facebook and Amazon Prime Video are the ones not keen to join.
The report adds that there are still several issues to be ironed out even between the ones who have agreed for this arrangement. Matters like what should be the penalty for dereliction etc. are sticky in nature and the players have not reached the stage yet of discussing them. The Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) appears to be the body between these entities and they claim to have drafted what they call “Code of Best Practices for Online Curated Content Providers”.
The Ministry might not have received this code in black & white it appears. Meanwhile, the code may lay down that contents already banned by Indian courts, any picture or video that disrespects the national emblem and flag, outrages religious sentiments, promotes terrorism or violence against the State and shows children in sexual acts are taboo.
Self-regulation also means each of the signatories has to establish internal mechanisms and create a “Compliance Department” and appoint a “Content Compliance Officer” and so on. At the next level, there could be an independent committee called the “OVP Content Committee” where OVP stands for online video platforms. Even this proposal is not agreed to by everyone it is learnt.
Amazon is one player who has got out of these discussions since they feel they would do injustice to their paying subscribers if it tampers with content streamed on its channel brought from international sources. The other agency in the equation is the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY). It may jump into the fray after the code is actually out and at the time of its implementation.
The third force to contend with as far as the Indian regulatory regime is concerned is the TRAI. The telecom regulator has also been involved floating a paper ‘Regulatory Framework for Over The Top (OTT) Communication Services’.
Much of these streaming contents is aired through mobile devices and falls within the purview of TRAI that regulates the telecom companies in the country.
With all these factors to contend with, it will be interesting to watch how these online video streaming companies reach a consensus among themselves and then convince the regulating agencies.