Self regulation code adopted by Disney+ Hotstar, Amazon Prime Video and other OTT platforms could either be a huge success — or go the Facebook-Twitter way

Self regulation code adopted by Disney+ Hotstar, Amazon Prime Video and other OTT platforms could either be a huge success — or go the Facebook-Twitter way
15 large OTT players in India signed a common code of self regulation but how effective it will be is yet to be determinedNetflix/Disney+Hotstar/Amazon Prime Video
  • Disney+ Hotstar, Amazon Prime Video, Netflix and 13 other large OTT players in India have signed a self regulation code to govern content on their platform.
  • While self-regulation has been successful in some instances, in the online world the Facebook and Twitter story has not inspired confidence so far.
  • Whether or not the government will choose to intervene will depend on the success of how the new self regulation code is enforced.
Content providers in India may have signed a self-regulation code at the government’s behest but that doesn’t necessarily mean that they will be free from scrutiny in the future. A lot depends on the success of their new regulation framework.

It could either go the way of Facebook and Twitter where the self-imposed policies are in place, but enforcement, loopholes, and biases, has many wanting for more accountability.

“Any failure to comply with the same can lead to future government intervention,” Rajat Prakash, a managing partner at Athena Legal told Business Insider.

Or, since it’s one common code adopted by 15 large OTT players — including the big wigs like Amazon Prime, Disney+ Hotstar, Netflix and Zee5 — experts believe it could have a higher chance of success.

“The code provides for a self regulation framework, and as such will not have legislative force. However, a self regulatory approach is not unprecedented and has been successfully adopted by several other industry sectors in the past, like advertising,” said Tanu Banerjee, a partner at IndusLaw.


What is the self regulation code adopted by OTT platforms in India?
The self regulation code came into effect last month on August 15. It proposes a set of guidelines with respect to age classification, content descriptions, and access controls. All the OTT players who have signed the code are expected to adhere to the same guidelines.

Individually, each OTT player will be required to set up a consumer complaints department. This will be the point of contact for consumers or anyone looking to cite a concern in regard to any of the content on the platform.

An overarching advisory panel will also be set up consisting of an independent member — one who has no association with the OTT platform. This panel will advise the internal committee on decisions and issues.

What does the government want?
With theatres closed and nobody looking to step out of their house more than they have to, movies are being released directly onto OTT platforms. This means they are not required to have a Central Board of Film Certification, hence no rating, which is why the Information and Broadcast (I&B) Ministry has been pushing to take over jurisdiction from the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY).

According to the I&B Ministry, OTT platforms should be held to the same standards at films and television rather than being allowed to have a free reign.

MeitY, on the other hand, argues that the Information Technology (IT) Act 2000 and its intermediary guidelines governed the conduct for all third party content already overseas content pushed by OTTs.

“OTT content does fall under the Information Technology Act of 2000, however, there is no separate regulation for OTT contents. The act does have provisions that allow the government to apply penalty and imprisonment for publishing or transmitting obscene and sexually explicit material,” explained Banerjee.

The ask to set up a Digital Content Complaints Committee (DCCC), which is a part of the new self regulation code, was put forth by I&B. The aim of the DCC is to target content that harms national sovereignty, promotes violence against children, promotes terrorism, or content banned by court order.

"In order to make a complaint no legal notice is required, a viewer can make a complaint giving his details and nature of the complaint against specific content," explained Prakash.

After Amazon Prime, Netflix and Hotstar plan to go down the path of self-censorship in India

Netflix, Disney+ Hotstar, Amazon Prime Video, MX Player and 11 other leading OTT players sign self-regulation code

Disney+ Hotstar Premium set to become the second most expensive OTT subscription in India