After Amazon Prime, Netflix and Hotstar plan to go down the path of self-censorship in India
Netflixand Hotstarare reportedly planning to adopt an ‘unofficial code’ to censor their online video content. Amazon Primeis already self-censoring as seen after the release of “Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” where nudity was blurred out.
- Netflix and Hotstar are already in hot water in
Indiawith PILs filed against them over sexually explicit content and gore.
Even though Netflix and Hotstar don’t fall under the purview of the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC), they’re thinking about self-censoring to avoid trouble, according a report by Reuters.
Netflix and Hotstar also plan on adopting an ‘unofficial code’ that will reportedly prohibit content that shows children ‘engaged in real or simulated sexual activities’, is ‘disrespectful’ of the Indian flag or ‘encourages terrorism’.
In an e-mailed statement to Business Insider, Netflix denied the network is censoring content, but only adhering to a set of ‘
However, a closer examination of the draft of the self-regulation code seen by Business Insider reveals that signatories to the code will be expected to comply with a clause, ‘Prohibited Content’, which appears to restrict the kind of content that can be produced by creators, including content which ‘deliberately and maliciously intends to outrage religious sentiments of any class, section of community’.
Here’s the ‘prohibited content’ code reproduced in full:
The oncoming threat of government regulation
This development comes at a time when Netflix is already fighting a legal battle over their first original series in India, “ Sacred Games”. Implementing self regulation may be the easiest way for online streaming platform to hedge their bets against government censorship.
Last year, Justice For Rights Foundation, a local non-profit, filed a case against Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and Hotstar asking for government regulation over online content over concerns of sexually explicit content. The hearing is scheduled for February.
On December 6, the Bombay High Court ruled for Indian ministries to set up pre-screenings and committee to monitor web series after a public interest litigation (PIL) was filed against online streaming platforms raising concerns against gory content and sexually explicit scenes.
The PIL, filed by Divya Gontiya, stated, “The screening of pornographic contents, vulgar gestures and talks are overriding the Indian culture and morality.”
There’s already a certain level of regulation
While Netflix and Hotstar don’t openly censor content, they do have their own ratings in place. Every show online has an age-appropriate rating along with disclaimers that identify if there is nudity, foul language, or violence.
After that it’s up to viewer to apply their own discretion.
But implementing censorship will have a bigger impact on creators than on viewers. Online video streaming platforms have finally given Indian writers and directors the space to create content without having to look over their shoulders.
If audiences truly disapprove of a certain show for its violence or nudity, the film or web series is unlikely to be successful anyway.
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