Govt. Launches New Classification Ratings for OTT Platforms such as Netflix and Prime Video

  • The new mechanism is based on the principles of minimum government intervention.
  • The rules will regulate social media platforms, OTT streaming platforms, and digital news platforms.
  • Earlier this month, OTT platforms have adopted a self-regulation toolkit to focus on grievance redressal and the setting up of complaints committees.

The government of India, on February 25, launched a code of ethics and self-regulation mechanism for OTT platforms, digital news publishers, and social media platforms.

According to the new code of ethics, which is part of the Information Technology (Guidelines for Intermediaries and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021, the Adult content category will be suitable only for 18-year-olds and above. “No one younger than 18 may see an A-category film.”

Over the past few months, OTT platforms like Amazon Prime Video and Netflix have faced criticisms and complaints in India for allegedly showing “obscene content.”

Earlier this month, IndianStartupNews had reported that OTT platforms such as Prime Video and Netflix adopted the self-regulation toolkit to focus on grievance redressal and setting up of complaints committees. The government has allowed OTT’s self-regulation but under the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting (MIB) surveillance.

The OTT platforms will need to self-classify the content into six different categories, including U (universal), U/A – General Viewing, U/A – 7+, U/A 13+, U/A 16+, and A- Adult category. 

Furthermore, OTT platforms would also be supposed to implement parental locks for content classified as U/A 13+ or higher, and reliable age verification mechanisms for content classified as ‘A’, the statement said.

The digital news platforms would also be required to implement Norms of Journalistic Conduct of the Press Council of India and the Programme Code under the Cable Television Networks Regulation Act, thereby providing a level playing field between the offline (Print/ TV) and digital media.

The rules made for some significant social media will be implemented within the next three months and the rest will come into effect from the day rules are notified, said Ravi Shankar Prasad, Minister of Law & Justice of India. ANI reported.

He further said that all social media platforms are welcomed in India but there’s shouldn’t be any double standards. The spread of fake news and rumors should also stop and for this social media platforms have to appoint a grievance officer which will register complaints within 23 hours. Social Media platforms will also have to disclose the details of the first originator of mischievous posts upon the government requests.

“A grievance redressal official must be resident in India and monthly compliance reports have to be filed by social media platforms. Any pornographic or morphed content should be removed within 24 hours after the complaint made.”

The government has also launched a three-level grievance redressal mechanism under the rules with two levels of self-regulation.

  • Level 1 being the publisher themselves.
  • level 2 being the Self Regulatory Body.
  • level 3 being the Oversight Mechanism that falls under the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (I&B).

Addressing the concerns for OTT platforms, Prakash Javdekar, Minister of Information & Broadcasting, said that OTT platforms are supposed to be a self-regulatory body but will be headed by a retired judge of the Supreme Court or a High Court, or by an eminent person from the relevant field which can issue advisories to the publishers.

The newly launched mechanism is based on minimum government interventions however the platforms should develop their own robust grievance redressal mechanism on their own, he said.

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