OTT industry to draft a tool kit to implement self-regulation code

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November 26, 2020 8:18 AM

Earlier this month, the government brought OTT platforms like Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Disney+Hotstar under the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting by amending the rules of business allocation

OTT, Self-regulationIndustry executives are hopeful that the process of framing the tool kit will soon be completed.

The over-the-top (OTT) industry and the Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) have joined hands to draft an implementation tool kit that will detail the manner in which a proposed self-regulation code for video on demand services will be applicable. The move comes after the government conveyed that the self-regulation code, curated by the IAMAI and adopted by nearly 15 OTT players, did not clearly specify the way it will be implemented.

“We did share the self-regulation code with the government but they came back with some feedback. There are some minor or major implementation issues which they want us to tackle and which the industry in its implementation code (tool kit) is working towards,” said Tarun Katial, outgoing CEO of Zee5 India and chairman of IAMAI’s digital entertainment committee. Industry executives are hopeful that the process of framing the tool kit will soon be completed. “We are assuming that by moving the adjudicating ministry to I&B, there is going to be regulation. There is nowhere that the ministry has ever said that they plan to bring in any sort of regulation. They have also been supportive of content diversity,” Katial said while speaking at a FICCI event on Wednesday.

Earlier this month, the government brought OTT platforms like Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Disney+Hotstar under the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting by amending the rules of business allocation. Though this does not imply that digital content will now be regulated by the I&B ministry as is the case with films released in theatres and TV programmes, it is now empowered to draw up rules in this regard.

The self-regulation code issued by the IAMAI had mandated each OCCP (online curated content provider) to set-up a Consumer Complaints Department and/or an internal committee as well as an advisory panel to deal with complaints, appeals and escalations. However, the government was not satisfied and had directed IAMAI to consider other regulatory models. The government was of the view that the code lacked independent third-party monitoring. Besides, it does not have a well-defined code of ethics and fails to enunciate prohibited content adequately.

The IAMAI was advised to take cue from the structures of the Broadcasting Content Complaints Council (BCCC) and News Broadcasting Standards Authority (NBSA). “If the government is satisfied that the industry in itself has a good self-regulation code, their position in courts becomes that much more tenable,” Katial said.

In contrast to OTTs, movies that are released in theatres are under regulation and need to have a certificate from the Central Board of Film Certification under the Cinematograph Act, 1952. Similarly, TV serials etc are governed under the Cable Television Network (Regulation) Act, 1995, which lays down a programming code by way of dos and dont’s.

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