Obviously, the MIB`s oversight mechanism will act as an appellate body for all second-level decisions, allowing the central government to exercise some control over the platform`s programming. While the rules seek to maintain a balance between self-regulation and state control, two key provisions tip the balance in favour of state supervision: first, the registration of the self-regulatory organization is subject to the satisfaction of the MIB; and secondly, at level three, the inter-ministerial committee can hear complaints submitted to it by the MIB, thus skipping the first two levels of self-regulation. In its suo-moto petition, the Supreme Court, in response to videos of sexual violence circulating on social media platforms, stated that „the government may develop and formulate the necessary policies and rules to remove child pornography, rape and gangrape images, videos and websites from content hosting platforms and other similar applications.“ In a decision of 24 September 2019, the court also instructed the Ministry to examine the timetable for completing the procedure for notifying and announcing the new rules, which indicate the urgency of regulating these platforms. Therefore, in accordance with this decision, it can be said that the Government of India has submitted the Intermediate Guidelines and Digital Media Code of Ethics of 2021. 2. OTT platforms must also provide a parental lock mechanism in their services. The new rules are called „Guidelines for Intermediaries and the Code of Ethics for Digital Media“ and not only require big tech companies to put in place a faster and more efficient grievance mechanism, but they also increase the influence of different regulators on these platforms. 6. In addition, the new rules stipulate that there may be one or more autonomous publishers` bodies, headed by a retired Supreme Court judge, a Supreme Court or an independent person, with a maximum of six members. OTT rules are IT rules introduced by the Indian government to regulate the content of OTT platforms. However, filmmaker Onir disagrees with popular belief, which calls it the „death of good content.“ Actor Sharib Hashmi, known for The Family Man, echoes his point of view, telling us: „I believe it will level the playing field for everyone, but now we have to think twice before doing anything on the OTT platform. For me, the most shocking thing is that OTT is now regulated by the government itself. OTT or Over The Top platforms are services that allow viewers to access movies, TV shows and other media directly over the Internet, bypassing cable or satellite systems.
OTT services can be accessed through internet-connected devices such as computers, smartphones, set-top boxes, and smart TVs. In Indian regulatory jargon, OTT platforms are called „online curated content publishers“. Organized online content is audiovisual content such as movies, web series, podcasts, etc. that is made available to viewers on demand, including but not limited to OTT platform subscriptions. „On request“ means a system that allows a User to access, at a time of his choice, all Content in electronic form transmitted through a computer resource and selected by the User. Popular video-on-demand services in India include Disney+Hotstar, Amazon Prime Video, Sony LIV, etc. In February last year, the government notified the 2021 IT rules (guidelines for intermediaries and code of ethics for digital media) to regulate OTT platforms. The rules create a flexible self-regulatory architecture with a code of ethics and a three-tier grievance mechanism for OTT platforms.
They provide for self-classification of content without the participation of the Central Film Certification Board. The general principles require platforms not to publish content prohibited by law and to consider the implications and exercise caution and discretion with regard to content that affects India`s sovereignty and integrity. They should also take into account India`s multiracial and multi-religious context and exercise caution and discretion when describing the activities, beliefs, practices or opinions of a racial or religious group. OTT platforms must display an age-based content score and content descriptor for each piece of content. If necessary, they should also include a reference to the discretion of viewers at the beginning of the program. In addition, the rules prescribe a three-tiered institutional mechanism for dealing with public complaints. Yes, IT rules were introduced in 2021 to regulate OTT platforms. OTT platforms, or over-the-top platforms, have gained popularity around the world, especially since the pandemic. OTT services provide access to all content, including movies, TV shows, and other forms of entertainment using the Internet. The Indian government on Thursday announced new rules to regulate social media platforms, over-the-top (OTT) service providers and digital content providers in India.
While the initial content rating encourages viewers to make informed decisions, can a viewer who continues to watch a movie, series or program despite warnings and ratings still file complaints under the grievance mechanism? The rules do not provide specific grounds on which complaints may be made and, given the subjective nature of the content and the varying sensitivity of viewers, it is likely that there is a wide variety of complaints. The challenge for OTT platforms will be to balance complaints from different viewers with different social sensitivities and demand for different types of content about their „on-demand“ service models from a broad audience. The Code of Ethics introduced under the Rules provides guidelines for classifying content based on age, themes, content, tone and impact of the viewer and audience; and requires OTT platforms to give due consideration to India`s sovereignty, security, friendly relations, etc. Renowned film producer and business analyst Girish Johar welcomed the move, saying regulation was desperately needed. „Last year, everyone watched content on digital platforms with their children, and often they are bombarded with violence or offensive language while watching something with the family. We must understand that freedom of expression must remain within the framework of our own culture and decency. » 3. Under the new rules, digital media must comply with the Standards of Journalistic Conduct of the Indian Press Council and the Programme Code under the Cable TV Network Regulation Act. The 2021 IT rules have been criticized for many reasons; One of these concerns of OTT platforms is excessive delegation of authority by the government. The rules require the establishment of an out-of-court procedure to resolve complaints arising from content published by digital news media and OTT platforms, and also require the creation of a „monitoring committee“ to monitor the actions of these intermediaries. The Information Technology Act 2000 does not allow the government to do so. As a result, these government measures suffer from excessive delegation of authority.
Given the current situation, the need for an impartial regulator is necessary to regulate the content of the OTT platform.