censorship on OTT services

The fact that online content has more scope than TV or Movies is something we can’t deny. As OTT (over-the-top services) continue to become more popular, there is a possibility their popularity could lead to more censorship, specifically in India.

Popular OTT services will be censored?

As suggested by a new report, top officials at the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting will be meeting people from leading OTT services. The discussion will involve methods of regulating online content and stamping it with censorship.

Various OTT services will include Netflix, Amazon Prime, Voot, Hotstar, ZEE5, Reliance Jio, AltBalaji, Eros Now, and more. The technical community, media, ISPs, and legal experts will also be a part of the meeting.

What led to the decision of censorship discussion?

The idea of regulating online content has come into being since the popular Netflix original series ‘Leila‘ made its entry.

The web series has provoked right-wing Hindu organizations such as RSS and VHP as it’s believed that the series depicts Hindu culture in a negative way.

For those who don’t know, Leila is a story about a mother in search of her missing daughter set in a dystopian state. The web series is based on a 2017 novel going by the same name and written by Prayaag Akbar.

An unnamed member of Sang Parivar (RSS) stated: “It represents ancient Hindu concepts such as Aryavarta and Shuddhikaran as oppressive and dictatorial, suppressing women and restricting their reproductive rights. Nowhere in Hindu scriptures will you find such an occurrence, which is why we raised concerns about the series being defamatory and insulting.”

Additionally, other online shows such as The Final Call, Kafir, and Hasan Minhaj’s Patriot Act can be accredited for the ignition of emotions among the Hindu organizations.

The current scenario for TV and movie content

As a reminder, presently, the online content produced does not need approval from the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC). Furthermore, it can’t come under the Cinematograph Act of 1952. Hence, some regulations are being asked for.

Shows aired on TV are being taken care of by the Broadcasting Content Complaints Council (BCCC). The BCCC handles user complaints against TV content deemed derogatory or inappropriate. Additionally, movies are regulated by CBFC.

Do we need a censorship of online content?

While it is mandatory to regulate whatever content is produced, I am not sure if strict censorship is needed at all.

Unlike movies and TV shows, online content tends to practice the very right of freedom of speech and tries to bring forth a lot of topics without compromising on the way they are depicted.

Censorship could take that away from us as consumers and people who produce the content.

Having said that, if a neutral regulatory body is formed, we could be thankful for it as regulation can always prove useful.

For those who have forgotten, the Supreme Court (back in May) issued a notice to the government to start regulating Netflix, Amazon Prime, and Hotstar. However, Netflix has suggested that it won’t censor the content on its platform.

Various other video platforms, on the other hand, came together to form a self-regulatory Code of Best Practices under the Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI).

As a reminder, the Indian government still hasn’t come up with anything concrete, and we have to wait until an official word is let out. So, keep on visiting Fossbytes for more information.

Also Read: Netflix Not Working? Here’s Our 2019 Guide To Fix Your Netflix Problems