17 platforms, including Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and Disney+ Hotstar, are signatories.

Person holding up a phone with an array from an OTT platformPicxy/Neeraz Chaturvedi
Atom OTT Thursday, February 11, 2021 - 18:50

The Internet and Mobile Association of India released its ‘implementation toolkit’, a document that Over-the-Top (OTT) players say they will adopt in order to self-regulate. This comes after the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting rejected the self-regulation code put out by its signatories, and asked it to look at other self-regulatory models. 

The code that was signed had a framework for age classification, content description for titles and access control tools, as well as an internal committee and an advisory panel. The Ministry, according to Medianama, when it sent back the code had said that there was no classification of prohibited content, and the second tier (the Advisory Panel) of grievance redressal by the content provider themselves.

In a statement on Thursday, the IAMAI said the purpose of the toolkit was to “provide for procedures to effectuate the various provisions of the Code; assist the signatories in fulfilling their commitments and responsibilities as set out in the Code, and to achieve effective self-regulation goals as envisioned by the signatories in the Code.” It added that this was to address feedback it received from the Ministry on issues of conflict of interest and prohibited content.

Information and Broadcasting Ministry Prakash Javadekar informed the Rajya Sabha on Tuesday that the guidelines to govern OTT platforms are “almost ready”. It was in November that these platforms were moved from the purview of the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology to the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting. 

The Code has 17 signatories, and includes all major streaming platforms in the country. These include ZEE5, Viacom 18 (Voot), Disney+ Hotstar, Amazon Prime Video, Netflix, SonyLiv, MX Player, Jio Cinema, Eros Now, Alt Balaji, Arre, HoiChoi, Hungama, Shemaroo, Discovery Plus, Aha and Lionsgate Play. 

The toolkit, IAMAI said, is effective from February 10, 2021.  It added that it will constitute a ‘secretariat’ for the code, which would have representatives from the OTT platforms and IAMAI, who will overlook the code’s implementation. “IAMAI aims to develop a process to seek periodic updates from the Signatories regarding their progress with respect to compliance with the provisions of the Code,” it said. 

The toolkit suggests a two-stage grievance redressal and complaint resolution mechanism, and even says that the secretariat will take up the issue with a non-signatory if need be. Signatories have to constitute an internal committee within their grievance redressal system, and an advisory panel (which includes an independent member(s)) to decide on the complaints when the complainant is either dissatisfied with the decision of the internal committee or wants the matter to be escalated. 

“The Signatories have agreed to adhere to all applicable laws of the land, a list of which is annexed as Annexure B to this Tool Kit. IAMAI Secretariat shall keep the Signatories informed of any legislative or judicial developments with respect to online content,” the statement said. It says members of signatories will be trained, and the general public will be educated. It also calls for an audit and compliance mechanism.

Apart from several sections of the Indian Penal Code, the laws include sections of the Information Technology Act, The Indecent Representation of Women (Prohibition) Act, The Contempt of Courts Act, The Representation of the People Act, Prevention of Insults to National Honour Act, Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, The Official Secrets Act, The Criminal Law Amendment Act, The Police (Incitement to Disaffection) Act, The Emblems and Names (Prevention of Improper Use) Act, The Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, The Protection of Civil Rights Act, Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act and The Juvenile Justice Care and Protection Act. 

Amit Goenka, Chair, Digital Entertainment Committee, IAMAI said, “This Tool Kit amplifies all the critical points that were addressed in the Code signed last year and aims to address feedback received from the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, particularly on strengthening the grievance redressal mechanism.  It further sets out clear tent poles that the OCCPs need to undertake to achieve a common goal of entertaining millions of Indians responsibly.”

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