Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hotstar to be regulated? SC seeks Centre’s response

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New Delhi | Published: May 11, 2019 4:15:46 AM

The Supreme Court on Friday sought a response from the Centre on a plea seeking to regulate the content featured on online media streaming platforms such as Netflix, Amazon Prime and Hotstar.

According to the petition, online platforms stream content that is full of vulgarity, sexually explicit, pornographic, profane, virulent, religiously forbidden and morally unethical.

The Supreme Court on Friday sought a response from the Centre on a plea seeking to regulate the content featured on online media streaming platforms such as Netflix, Amazon Prime and Hotstar.

A bench, headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi, issued notice to the ministries of I&B and law on a petition calling for framing of guidelines for these over-the-top (OTT) platforms as they show “uncertified, sexually explicit and vulgar” content.

The plea filed by Justice for Rights, an NGO, was earlier (in February) dismissed by the Delhi High Court after the court had been informed by the Centre that the online platforms were neither required to obtain a licence from the ministry of information and broadcasting nor was its content regulated by it. The ministry of law and justice had also said the matter was outside its domain.

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The HC further observed that since the law did not require such platforms to acquire a licence, it cannot direct them to get one. Instead, the HC suggested that the petitioner should pursue the FIR route.

The NGO alleged that contents were violative of the Indian Penal Code and the Information Technology Act and these platforms were not only displaying unlicensed, unregulated and uncertified content, but also functioning without being governed by any guideline.

According to the petition, online platforms stream content that is full of vulgarity, sexually explicit, pornographic, profane, virulent, religiously forbidden and morally unethical.

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It further said the order of the HC was “arrived at myopic appreciation of the petition and not in the complete pursuance of the merits. The HC judgment of February 2 only presents the petitioner with remedies that are available after the content is broadcast, the NGO stated.

It also said that due to lack or absence of any guidelines to govern the online platforms, government agencies are creating a special class of broadcasters and discriminating against customers, Cable TV producers, and D2H operators.

A similar plea is pending before the Karnataka High Court, wherein the petitioner has sought for the regulation of content on online streaming services including Netflix, Hotstar, and Amazon Prime Video. The court issued notice in the matter earlier this year.

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