I&B Minister Prakash Javadekar and IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad on Thursday (February 25, 2021) announced guidelines for OTT platforms as well as social media platforms. OTT censorship and guidelines have been the talk of the town due to the growing number of complaints registered against OTT platforms and web series in the last year.
Shows like Tandav, Mirzapur, A Suitable Boy and many more have been called out by netizens leading to government intervention in creating guidelines for OTT platforms. While unveiling the new institutional mechanism for OTT, Prakash Javadekar insisted, "Every freedom has to be responsible freedom. We have decided to have clear regulations platforms." He also added that a grievance redressal system will be mandatory for all OTT platforms.
Other guidelines include a self-regulation body headed by a retired Supreme Court or High Court Judge (or a prominent person in this category), and an oversight mechanism similar to the self-regulation mechanism used by the Television and Print mediums.
Javadekar also added that rules for the grievance redressal system will be similar to the ones announced by Ravi Shankar Prasad for social media. The guidelines for social media grievance include appointing Chief compliance officer (resident of India), Nodal contact person (resident of India), and grievance officers (resident of India). He also revealed that a monthly compliance report is to be submitted to the appointed committee, and the questionable content will have to be removed within 24 hours after complaint is filed.
As for self-regulation, he revealed that the platforms will be given responsibility for self-censoring content. "Since there is no censor board, there will have to be a self-classification of 13+, 16+, U and A category. The ethics code used by the CBFC will be the same as OTT. Media's freedom is absolute but responsible and that is self-restriction," Javadekar added.
Three months will be given to implementing these guidelines and create the bodies. Javadekar also reacted to reports claiming that OTT platforms were not consulted during guidelines creation. He said, "40 OTT entities are known and three consultations through meeting have taken place, after which the guidelines have been created."