Why content regulation is essential for creative industries

December 26, 2020 10:08 AM

Creators and conceptualisers must invest their integrity and moral fiber while developing content that can be viewed by everyone

Any laws regarding the nature and material of content showcased on the internet in India are only meant to safeguard the viewers, especially children of an impressionable age. Any laws regarding the nature and material of content showcased on the internet in India are only meant to safeguard the viewers, especially children of an impressionable age.

By Vineet Shetty

In a bid to control the nature of content that is depicted in a plethora of OTT and other creative content streaming platforms such as Netflix, Amazon Prime, Disney Hotstar etc, the government of India has issued a regulation order. A plethora of active online news portals, social media websites, and various content providers will now find themselves under the authority of the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting. This is one of the first in the initiative taken by the government’s attempt to regulate digital media in the country.

The Indian media is considered as the fourth pillar of the largest democracy in the world. Therefore, it naturally has its set of obligations and responsibilities towards the nation’s citizens. The media has the potential to build lasting narratives, enable exchanges of power and carve popular opinion. While television and print media were the main forms until a few years ago, the rapid rise of digital media in its various formats has seemingly transformed communication and media.

In this new age of technology, various new segments of media have emerged. These range from video streaming platforms, public forums, OTT platforms, etc. Offering a vast surfeit of content options alongside the ease of accessibility, these new-age digital content segments are stretching the boundaries of entertainment and information in the current times.

With access made instantaneous and seamless, countless content providers are churning out vast troves of diverse content for the benefit of the viewers. As both the audiences and the range of content multiply, the challenges pertaining to their proliferation also emerge simultaneously. There are several serious issues that must be addressed that surrounds the dark recesses of the content universe. The government’s effort in curbing various types of undesirable and illegal content such as fake news, misinformation, propaganda, profanity and obscenity, etc on the internet is quite commendable.

While resolving these challenges is warranted for most of the part, there is also a notion making the rounds that content regulation should be minimal and sensible, especially in the age of digitisation. People as mature adults should have the right to decide what to watch, read, or listen. Unlike our neighbors that has its people in a bound and gagged situation and where the state’s wishes become the final word, India is dedicated to upholding its democratic values. Any regulations that occur in the nation’s digital media parlor have been envisioned with full regard to the concerns and grievances of its people.

Furthermore, any laws regarding the nature and material of content showcased on the internet in India are only meant to safeguard the viewers, especially children of an impressionable age. Content companies and creators should also refrain from generating content that deliberately or accidentally offends the religious or cultural sentiments of any group, sect or organisation.

The recent times have also witnessed the meteoric rise of digital interactive storytelling platforms and immersive reading apps on the internet. These revolutionary platforms are reintroducing the joy of reading amongst the content-crazy millenials and next-gen audiences. With an immense amount of content bombarded on viewers from all sides, it is only natural that the younger audiences today not only suffer from shortened attention spans but also aversion to reading.

The surging popularity of digital storytelling apps is helping people fall in love with reading through immersive offerings and interactive fiction. By extending multiple plot twists where the user gets to decide the course of the story also empowers audiences with the feeling of not only reading but living the fictional creation.

The bulk of the creative industry utilises advanced technologies like big data and data analytics to decipher consumer expectations and requirements. This allows them to showcase the content which is bound to be a hit with the audiences. Producing commercial content that is raunchy, graphic, and full of predicable narratives is a trick of the part, new age content productions are replete with exhilarating story lines and high quality tropes that keeps the consumers coming back for more. Ideally, people should have the right to explore their options according to their idiosyncratic preferences when it comes to digital media content. They should be permitted to choose at their own will and disposition when it comes to continuing or discontinuing the consumption of content; be it any genre.

Content regulation will further assist in driving home the challenges inherent with reckless content transmission. It will also prove fruitful in raising appropriate questions like how much is a lot and when one should put a break on the pedal. Exposing those that fall below the prescribed age span to the various harsh realities with all its gory details is something that worries not only parents, public welfare boards, and government authorities but also content companies. Creators and conceptualisers must invest their integrity and moral fiber while developing content that can be viewed by everyone.
The author is co-founder of Plop Stories. Views expressed in the article are personal.

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