This move, according to I&B Ministry secretary Amit Khare, is to create a level playing field among different media.

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Atom OTT Wednesday, July 08, 2020 - 21:13

OTT platforms in India currently are not regulated, but the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (I&B) has proposed a change to take over jurisdiction of OTT platforms from the Ministry of Information Technology. 

"OTT being a digital platform will fall under the purview of the ministry of IT but now we are proposing a decision that the content should fall within the purview of I&B ministry," ministry of information and broadcasting secretary Amit Khare said during FICCI e-FRAMES. 

Khare said that there is a need for various ministries to be converged, especially in the way changes are taking place. 

During the webinar, Khare pointed out five media — print, radio, films, TV and OTT, and said that all except OTT are regulated. 

Khare also said that regulatory regimes in India have been developed as per the platforms and the country has no regulations as of now for the emerging media like OTT players. 

“Different regulatory structures need to be brought in sync with each other. Not to impose more regulation but to liberate them,” he said. 

This move, he said, was to create a level playing field among the different media. 

“Instead of bringing everyone to the lowest common, the attempt is to have more freedom to all of them. We must try to regulate or rather facilitate the sector. There is definitely a need for a level playing field among the different media. But level playing field does not mean getting everyone under very heavy regulatory structures,” he added. 

Content released on OTT platforms such as Netflix, Disney+Hotstar, Amazon Prime and Zee5 do not require a certification by the Central Board of Film Certification. With more series and films going directly to OTT platforms due to the lockdown and the extended shuttering of theatres, this assumes greater significance. 

Subscriptions of OTT platforms also surged during the lockdown. 

Chatter regarding the regulation of the OTT platform isn’t new. While there has been a tussle regarding whose purview (Meity or I&B) OTT platforms fall under, there have been increasing calls for regulation, which has been resisted. 

In February, the Internet and Mobile Association of India, an industry group, came up with a Digital Content Complaints Council (DCCC), an independent adjudicating platform. In March, I&B Minister Prakash Javadekar gave them a 100 day deadline to set up the body as well as finalise the code of conduct. 

However, things went sideways. The IAMAI had two tiers of code — while the first had nine signatories, the second had just five. 

This code finally could end up influencing the kind of movies and shows available on OTT platforms, how they are censored, and how they are  the code could end up affecting the availability of shows and movies on online streaming services, and how shows are possibly censored and subtitled.

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