The future of OTT Platform
The future of OTT Platform
Over the top platform a.k.a OTT Platform mainly refers to the online streaming media that is increasing its popularity day by day. OTT Platform provides the service of viewing movies, web series and news related contents online either on a person’s cell phone, or laptop or television. Some of the major OTT Platform services in India are being provided by Netflix and Prime Video, which have other junior competitors such as Hotstar, Voot, Alt Balaji, Sony liv etc.
It is being watched mainly by the millennial as well as the Gen Z. There has been a massive jump in the viewership of the digital platforms since the lockdown that commenced after the corona virus pandemic. It is much loved and enjoyed by the people because of the content on such a platform. The content on the OTT Platform has been outspoken which means that the issues that are economically and politically sensitive have been streamed through the OTT Platforms. The digital platforms initially worked as a streaming platform but due to its increasing popularity they have also started filming their own content with the help of their own production houses.
How OTT Platforms regulated themselves prior to the Ordinance of government?
Just like The Press Council of India (PCI) regulated the Printing media of the country and Central Board of Film Certificate (CBFC) monitors the film industry of the country, a common voluntary platform for regulating the OTT Platform was in talks in March.
OTT platforms are self regulatory. They have signed self regulation code in India. The self Regulation code was signed in the month of September by 15 virtual content providing services that came forward in order to sign an Online Curated Content Providers (OCCPs). It is considered through this code that an internal as well as an external committee would’ve been set up that would work as an Advisory Panel. The Advisory Panel would be beneficial by hearing the complaints, appeals and escalations of its user. The Advisory Panel must have included minimum of three members, two among them must be senior executives of that platform.
This self regulation code ensures regulation of the content of the platform and makes sure it does not harm the feelings or sentiments of another person. The framework for Age classification, Content Descriptions and Parental controls is included in the self regulation code which means that the viewers below 18 are guided about their content and through the parental control, parents can evaluate what their child must or must not watch. Yet based on the descriptions of the particular series or movie the viewers have the choice to watch the suggested content or not watch it.
Mr. Padmanabh Shankar vs. Union of India-
A Public Interest Litigation (PIL) was filed by Mr. Padmanabh in the month of Mid October arguing that why has the digital content that is being made available to the public at large operating without any filter or screening. The petitioner also argued that the OTT Platforms must be held liable and not get use to the safety net that is being made available to them under the section 79 of IT Act. Furthermore, he stated that even though the content is made available to the public over the internet inside the four walls it should come under the meaning of “Public exhibition”. The SC then sought the centers response on the PIL for regulation of the content on OTT Platforms as the same was of serious consideration.
The censorship of OTT platforms
On 9th November 2020 the notification issued a Notice signed by President Ram Nath Kovind in order to regulate the content that is made available on the OTT Platforms in India. The gazette states that it will amend the Government of India (Allocation of Business) Rules, 1961 after the year 2022.
The gazette states that it will regulate the Films and Audio- Visual Programmes made available online by online content providers and the New and current affairs content on online platforms. It will be headed by Union Ministry that is in the hands of current minister Prakash Javadekar.
Nothing in particular has been mentioned public but it has been assumed through this statement that not only the content of Online streaming platforms but also the content available through virtual media such as The Quint, Print, Scroll etc might also be regulated.
Merits and Demerits
• The main aim of the Act is that it will keep a check on the type of content that can stream online in India just the way advertisement, movies, newspapers and magazines are regulated.
• It has been stated that regulating the OTT Platforms will work in the favor of the public as a vast amount of explicit sexual and violent content is being streamed through such platforms.
• The regulations will also decrease the hurt caused to the religious sentiment of the people.
• There have been various arguments that regulating the OTT Platform will hamper the Right to free speech and expression. As politically and economically sensitive issues were covered through the OTT Platforms. The content of the platform is such that it will never be showed rather touched to stream live on TV or Films.
• The content through OTT platform wasn’t regulated and thus it was encouraged to criticize the government and such wrongs that were generally censored by the TV or Film platforms. Restrictions on the platforms limit the work of creativity or art. Censorship on such platforms decreases the producers to try and produce the contents that are crucial
• There have been various views from the left winged community of the country that this regulation is just desperation for control of freedom of free speech and expression. While OTT Platforms have been known for frequently making content on politically sensitive but relevant matters. Such a regulation will censor and eventually decrease the platform that criticizes the government through its streaming content and through the virtual print media.
Currently there has been much ongoing debate on what is right and what is not for the regulations of the OTT Platform. But not much can be stated unless and until actual amendments have been made officially by the government.