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Sony LIV signs IAMAI’s streaming self-regulation code, “hopes” to get government support

The Internet and Mobile Association of India’s self-regulation code has two new members — Sony Liv and Lionsgate Play. Sony Liv’s General Counsel Ashok Nambissan said that Sony “hopes” to get government support for the industry’s self-regulation efforts, which is notably an indirect acknowledgement that the code has not been blessed by the government.

The Universal Self-Regulation Code for Online Curated Content Providers is Indian streaming services’ attempt at shielding themselves from government censorship. With Sony Liv and Lionsgate Play, the code now has 17 members. You can read the summary of the code, made available to MediaNama, here.

IAMAI Digital Entertainment Committee chair Tarun Katial said that he “expect[s] more players to join the initiative in the coming weeks.” The code was finalised after weeks of consensus-building at the DEC, where some members initially opposed an earlier draft.

With Sony Liv joining, the only notable absentees seem to be regional players like SunNxt and global platforms like Apple TV+ and YouTube Premium. Lionsgate Play is a notable addition since it is not available as a standalone streaming service, and the code does not explicitly apply to the kind of aggregators that Lionsgate Play is offered on, such as Airtel xStream and Vodafone Play. We have reached out to Lionsgate for clarification on their signing of the code.

What OTT platforms are saying about the code

We reached out to all of the code’s signatories for comment on what it means for them and the industry at large. Their responses are below. Netflix and ShemarooMe refused to comment. All other signatories either did not respond to our request for comment or have not yet sent in their responses — we will update this post with statements as and when they are sent to us.

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  • MX Player CEO Karan Bedi said, “Together with IAMAI and other players, we have created a framework for age classification and description of content amongst other access controls, to make it convenient for consumers to make informed viewing decisions for themselves. OTT platforms have seen an increased traction in the backdrop of the pandemic and this move not only helps the end consumer but also aims at empowering the creative freedom amongst digital content creators. It’s a great step forward for the industry.”
  • Eros Now CEO Ali Hussein had this to say: “Eros Now has been an important stakeholder in the model of self-regulation, and looks upon the code as a way of responsibly making content available to its consumers and driving better freedom to content creators. With the code, Eros Now renews its pledge to bring forth entertainment to the masses in a responsible and conscientious manner.”
  • Hoichoi co-founder Vishnu Mohta said, “We, at hoichoi, believe that this is a unified concerted effort on the part of all the OTT platforms operating in India to have a common code that addresses the pertinent issue of content classification, while offering consumers a say in addressing any gaps that may have existed. I would like to thank the committee who worked tirelessly under the aegis of IAMAI to create a democratic framework which takes into consideration the viewpoints of all stakeholders, while also ensuring creative freedom is not curtailed.”
  • Sony LIV: Sony Pictures Networks India’s General Counsel Ashok Nambissan offered this comment as a part of IAMAI’s press release: “We are delighted to join the league of signatories of the Universal Self-Regulation Code. We look to working closely with the IAMAI and other OTT players to get broader acceptance for the Code as well as the Government’s support for the industry’s efforts at self-regulation.”

Written By

I cover the digital content ecosystem and telecom for MediaNama.

MediaNama’s mission is to help build a digital ecosystem which is open, fair, global and competitive.

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