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I&B Ministry refuses to support streaming services’ self-regulation code: Report

Prakash Javadekar
Credit: Soumyarendra Barik

The Ministry of Information & Broadcasting refused to support the self-regulation code by streaming services operating in India such as Hotstar, Netflix, JioCinema, and Amazon Prime Video, the Indian Express reported on Tuesday.

In a letter to the Internet and Mobile Association of India reportedly said that the code, signed by seventeen streaming platforms and digital companies, had a conflict of interest in the Advisory Panel that would hear appeals of complaints, as there is only one outside member prescribed out of its three members, with the other two spots being filled by the streaming service itself.

In addition, the MIB reportedly objected to the fact that there was no list of prohibited content in the code. The ministry also referred to the Broadcast Content Complaints Committee and the News Broadcasting Standards Authority as model examples for the IAMAI to look to for creating a code they would be willing to support. We have reached out to the IAMAI and the I&B Ministry to verify this development.

A lack of support from the I&B Ministry was signalled by both the I&B Ministry and the IAMAI — the former sidestepped the code as well as its talks with the IAMAI in a parliamentary response, and the latter put out a press release quoting a Sony Liv official “hoping” that the code would gain government support. In the Lok Sabha response, the I&B Ministry indicated that it doesn’t have jurisdiction over streaming video, but has previously said that it is trying to obtain that authority.

The Universal Self-Regulation Code for Online Curated Content Providers, as the code is called, is much more relaxed than a previous code, in which streaming services would have had to submit to the authority of a broadcast-type Digital Content Complaints Committee, which would have had the power to penalise streaming services for violating content norms. It is unclear what streaming services will do now, as all of them have to unanimously agree to amend the code.

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