Netflix, Amazon, Disney+ Hotstar will now have to classify their content according to age in India

Netflix, Amazon, Disney+ Hotstar will now have to classify their content according to age in India
Pixabay
  • The Indian government today released new rules that are a part of the Information Technology (Guidelines for Intermediaries and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021.
  • Netflix, Amazon Prime, Disney+ Hotstar will now have to classify their content based on who it is appropriate for, aside from setting up mechanisms for self regulation.
  • OTT platforms will now also have a three-tier redressal mechanism and they have three months to put this in place.
From Mirzapur to Tandav, and even A Suitable Boy, there’s an endless list of films and shows released on over-the-top (OTT) platforms in India like Netflix, Amazon Prime, Disney+ Hotstar among others, that have been subject to everything from moral policing and social media bashing to police cases.

And now, there are new norms that include classifying their content based on who it is appropriate for, aside from setting up mechanisms for self regulation. These are part of the Information Technology (Guidelines for Intermediaries and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021.

The classification levels will be
– Universal (suitable for all)
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– U/A - General Viewing: but some scenes may be unsuitable for young children
– U/A - 7+ : suitable for 7 years and above
– U/A - 13+ : Suitable for 13 years and over
– U/A - 16+ : Suitable for 16 years and over
– Adult category – Suitable only for 18 years and above

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The new rules said that ‘the most challenging themes (for example, drug misuse, violence, paedophilia, sex, racial or communal hatred or violence etc.) are unlikely to be appropriate at the junior levels of classification’.

The government also made way for regulation in the sector. “There should be a grievance redressal system in OTT platforms and digital portals. OTT platforms will have to have a self-regulating body, headed by a retired Supreme Court or High Court judge or very eminent person in this category,” said Union Minister Prakash Javadekar during the press conference on February 25.

OTT platforms will now also have a three-tier redressal mechanism and they have three months to put this in place.
OfficerResponsibility
Chief compliance officerResponsible for compliance of acts and the rules of the Government of India
Nodal contact personWill coordinate with law enforcement 24x7
Resident grievance officerPerson the redressal grievance mechanism as indicated for intermediaries

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The platforms will also have to address complaints within 24 hours.

Is this censorship of OTT?

The films released on OTT platforms will now have to be cautious of the language being used in the scenes of the film/show, portrayal of smoking, liquor, psychotropic substances, as well as scenes that show nudity or sex.

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The regulations also include a warning for OTT platforms that show ‘imitable behaviour’ including anti-social behaviour like bullying, violence or eve-teasing. “Films/serials with song and dance scenes comprising lyrics and gestures that have sexual innuendos would receive a higher classification, particularly where such scenes have no bearing on the context and theme of the film,” said the rules.

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