OTT Platforms To Be Regulated? SC Issues Notice To Centre To Regulate These Platforms The plea filed has sought for an establishment of an autonomous body headed by a retired IAS officer and others to regulate the digital content on platforms

By Debarghya Sil

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The Supreme Court on Thursday issued notice to the central government, ministry of information and broadcasting (MoI&B) and Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) in a PIL asking for regulation on over-the-top (OTT) platforms.

The bench headed by Chief Justice S.A. Bobde and Justices A.S. Bopanna and V. Ramasubramanian had sought the Centre's response on the matter.

The need to regulate the OTT platforms in India has been a topic of debate for sometime in the country. While some say the content available on the platform should be monitored like the films and soap operas broadcasted on cable television channels and halls, others say that it attempts to muzzle artists' freedom.

The plea filed by advocate Shashank Shekhar Jha and Apurv Arhatia has sought for an establishment of an autonomous body headed by a retired IAS officer of secretary level and others to regulate the digital content that goes live on these OTT/streaming and digital media platforms.

The plea underlines that since cinema halls are unlikely to open anytime soon in the country, OTT/streaming and digital media platforms have become the place for filmmakers and artists to release their content without being "worried about getting clearance certificates' for their films and series from sensor boards.

The plea points out that lack of a governing legislation is becoming evident with each passing day as a new case is being filed on these grounds.

"The government is facing heat to fill this lacuna with regulations from the public and the Judiciary; still the relevant government departments have not done anything significant to regularize these OTT/Streaming Platforms," the plea said, as reported by PTI.

According to a Live Law report, the plea taking some examples of foreign shows/movies such as Wolf of Wall Street, 365 Days, and Game of Thrones available on various platforms said that they have scenes which are inappropriate for households as they content nudity, drugs, smoke, crime., etc.

It also mentioned some of the Indian origin series such as Sacred Games, Paatal Lok, Mirzapur and Koffee With Karan consists of inappropriate content for common households and without government's moderation is harmful for society.

In September after receiving flak, around 15 OTT/digital streaming platforms including Netflix, Amazon Prime, Disney Hotstar had agreed to sign a code of self-regulation under the ambit of IAMAI. However, the ministry of information and broadcasting later had asked IAMAI to look at other self-regulatory models. It had then said that the proposed regulatory mechanism lacks independent third party monitoring, and fails to have a well-defined Code of Ethics. It also noted that the model provides an obscurity on the content prohibition.

Debarghya Sil

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