The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (MIB) will issue a “negative list” – a list of some “non-negotiable” prohibited content – to video streaming services like Netflix by the end of 2019, according to a report in The Hindu. MIB has also urged over the top (OTT) platforms to come up with a self-regulatory body akin to the News Broadcasting Standards Authority (NBSA), the report said.
The ministry is not attempting censorship of content on streaming platforms, but, there will be prohibitions on some “basic things,” like depicting the Indian map correctly and not portraying women in a “denigrating” manner, the report continues. This won’t stop content creators from making content critical of the government, it added.
In January 2019, OTT platforms including Netflix, Hotstar, Voot, ZEE5, Arre, SonyLIV, ALT Balaji and Eros Now became signatories to the Internet and Mobile Association of India’s (IAMAI) self-regulatory code. The code already has a section on prohibited content which highlights the types of content – such as deliberately disrespecting the national emblem or flag – that these platforms would not make available.
MIB’s seminar on online content regulation
This report comes out after MIB held a two-day seminar on film certification and regulation of online content in Mumbai on October 10 and 11. At the seminar, BJP spokesperson Hitesh Jain said that OTT content has to be regulated, and called for a “broad-based” regulation. A ministry source told MediaNama that the most likely framework would be a self-regulatory code for OTT platforms, which is acknowledged by the government so as to give it legal sanctity.
MIB secretary, Amit Khare had acknowledged that it would be impossible for the government to monitor the content on the internet all the time. He had also said that while regulations should not throttle the creativity of people, creators should understand their boundaries. “A few weeks ago, we were flooded with this problem of the map of India not being shown correctly by some of the channels. But this is a very serious offense,” Khare said. “It cannot be said that this is my individual creativity that I will show parts of Maharashtra in Karnataka and parts of Karnataka in some other country. It cannot be left to your creativity,” he had said.
Union I&B minister Prakash Javadekar had also called for a regulatory body for news portals at the seminar. Khare called for comments from the attendees so that the ministry can create a framework to regulate online content and said that these comments would be kept confidential.
A ministry source had previously told MediaNama that a similar seminar is scheduled to take place in Chennai.