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SC Sends Notices To OTT Platforms To Regulate Their Content

On Thursday, the Supreme Court gave notice in a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) to the Centre, the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, and the Internet and Telecom Association of India looking for OTT guideline sites, such as Netflix and Amazon Prime by a self-governing body. A bench headed by India's Chief Justice SA Bobde gave notice and sought the reaction of the Center to the issue. The petition, lodged by Advocates Shashank Shekhar Jha and Apurv Arhatia, seeks guidance on the "establishment of an appropriate board / institution / association for content control and management on various OTT / Streaming and digital media platforms." It is seen that OTT / Streaming and different media outlets have helped producers and artists to deliver their content without being stressed about securing clearance certificates from the Central Board of Film Certification, as films / theatres are not likely to open at some point in the near future.

Therefore, without any law or independent body overseeing computerised content, content without filtering or screening is made available to the general population everywhere. In addition, they have failed to settle a self-administrative code despite the Ministry's suggestions for OTT / Streaming stages, "that almost none of the OTT / Streaming platforms like Netflix, Amazon Prime, Zee5, and Hotstar have signed the self-regulation given by Respondent No.2 since February 2020." The pleas further state that, as time passes, the absence of an administrative enactment becomes clear as another case is recorded on these grounds. "The government is facing heat to fill this void with legislation from the public and the judiciary; but nothing important has been done by the relevant government departments to regularise these OTT / Streaming Sites."

The plea also raises the problem that during the pandemic and absence of censoring permits "exploitation of artistic freedom" the use of content on these sites has increased, involving stretching the limits on depicting violation of social mores, including violence, scenes and disgusting dialects, often without warning. "Keep the system of values intact", the plea further claimed " Hotstar is airing international series such as Game of Thrones, Amazon airing films such as The Wolf of Wall Street, Netflix airing films such as 365 Days etc. in India that have numerous scenes inappropriate for households like nudity, sexy, narcotics, smoke, crime etc." 

The plea also notes that Indian series and movies such as Mirzapur, Paatal Lok, Sacred Games and Koffee with Karan are also overflowing with unseemly material for ordinary families and are not subjected to any equilibrium by any government that is destructive to society as a whole. In view of the above, the request seeks a self-sufficient body / board, “Central Board for Online Video Content Control and Monitoring,” to screen and monitor the content and regulates the videos for Indian viewers on multiple platforms. In addition, it appeals to the Board to be led by a Secretary-level IAS officer and to have individuals from several fields.


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