Government unveils new guidelines for OTT platforms; Launches new classification ratings, grievance redressal

Updated on Feb 26, 2021 03:45 PM IST  |  233.8K
   
Government unveils new guidelines for OTT platforms; Launches new classification ratings, grievance redressal
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The Government of India, on Thursday, has unveiled new guidelines for social media and OTT platforms. The announcement for the same was made by Information Technology Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad and Union minister Prakash Javadekar. So far, online news media was unregulated, with the Information & Broadcasting Ministry bringing it under its ambit last year, but not yet formalizing rules for it. These guidelines will come into effect in three months. The new sets of rules have been made to regulate the content on OTT platforms. The government has launched new classification ratings, grievance redressal framework for the online streaming platforms.

According to the new Information Technology (Guidelines for Intermediaries and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021, the Adult category will be suitable only for 18-year-old and above. This comes during a time when OTT platforms like Netflix and Amazon Prime have faced criticisms and complaints in India for allegedly showing “obscene content.”

As per new guidelines,  the OTT platforms are supposed to self-classify the content into five categories – U (universal), U/A 7+, U/A 13+, U/A 16+, and A (adult). Platforms would also be required to implement parental locks for content classified as U/A 13+ or higher, and reliable age verification mechanisms for content classified as ‘A’. Publishers of news on digital media would 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.

There is also a three-level grievance redressal mechanism that has been established under the rules with two levels of self-regulation. Level 1 being the publisher themselves, and level 2 being the Self Regulatory Body, and level 3 being the Oversight Mechanism that falls under the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting. It shall publish a charter for self-regulating bodies, including Codes of Practices. It shall establish an Inter-Departmental Committee for hearing grievances.

The self-regulatory body would be headed by a retired judge of the Supreme Court of India or a High Court, or by a person of eminence from the relevant field, and can issue advisories to the publisher.

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