Fifteen Indian streaming services and digital content companies have adopted a self-regulation code to pre-empt government censorship, the Internet and Mobile Association of India announced on Friday evening. Unlike a previous draft of this that was unveiled by the IAMAI, this one does not create a Digital Content Complaints Committee that can hear appeals from viewers and penalise streaming services.

Instead, the new code relies on each OTT platform creating a three-member “advisory panel” that serves as an appeals body within the organisation itself. In that panel, two members are executives of the streaming service, and one is an “independent external advisor” who must not be employed by the company in any other capacity. It is unclear if the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting, which has been in talks with the IAMAI over this issue, approves of the code — we have reached out to IAMAI for comment on this.

The signatories to the new code are Zee5, Viacom18, Disney Hotstar, Amazon Prime Video, Netflix, MX Player, Jio Cinema, Eros Now, Alt Balaji, Arre, HoiChoi, Hungama, Shemaroo, Discovery Plus, and Flickstree.

This new code, called the “Universal Self-Regulation Code for OCCPs” (Online Curated Content Providers), follows weeks of internal wrangling at the IAMAI’s Digital Entertainment Committee over the previous draft, which many members found unacceptable. After the previous code, some streaming services were taken aback that the IAMAI was approaching the government representing them without first gaining consensus. The situation led to the IAMAI’s governing council telling members to go back to the drawing table and come up with industry-level consensus.

Friday’s version, which practically all of IAMAI’s members have agreed upon, is less demanding than even the ombudsman model that Arre’s Ajay Chacko mentioned, as there is no independent entity that can singlehandedly overrule a streaming service’s executives. The independent advisor should be “persons specializing in the field(s) such as, gender equality, child rights, etc,” the code said.

Sony Liv doesn’t appear to have signed on to the code; we have reached out to them to find out why. “Most of the major streaming services have adopted the Code and we look forward to others joining,” Tarun Katial, chair of the IAMAI’s DEC said in the announcement.

Also read

  • February 2020: IAMAI’s new code for online content streaming sets up a self-regulatory body, incorporates penalties [read]
    • Self Regulation for Online Curated Content Providers, IAMAI [read pdf]
  • February 2020: Streaming players ask IAMAI to recall streaming content code, question legitimacy; IAMAI responds [read]
  • March 2020: I&B Ministry gives OTT industry 100 days to create adjudicatory authority [read]
  • March 2020: Lack of consensus and hard questions at IAMAI’s meeting on its DCCC content regulation code [read]
  • March 2020: IAMAI to seek a consensus position on Content Regulation from its Digital Entertainment committee, following a Governing Council meeting [read]
  • August 2020: IAMAI proposed ombudsman model to government for OTT streaming regulation: Arré CEO Ajay Chacko [read]
  • A complete guide to OTT content regulation in India [read]