We missed this earlier: Minister of Information & Broadcasting Prakash Javadekar said in a video message on November 9 that over-the-top (OTT) streaming platforms had “no self-regulation”. The Indian Express first reported the remarks. Javadekar’s statement repudiates a self-regulation code, the Universal Self-Regulation Code for Curated Content Providers, that has the backing of most major Indian streaming services, like Netflix, Hotstar, Amazon Prime Video, Zee5, and Sony Liv.  The following is a translated excerpt of Javadekar’s remarks which otherwise addressed journalists on press freedom day, extolling the benefits of self-regulation.

Thirdly, we have OTT platforms. Neither do they have a Press Council of India-like institution, nor self-regulation. They have good films, unusual films, bad films, and very bad films too. This is why we are receiving suggestions on how to improve the situation there from people. Every day, countless letters come to us, and we consider each of them.

Glossing over the self-regulation code is not just a refusal to support it — the I&B Ministry has formally declined to give the code its backing — but a denial of its very existence. This may unsettle the Internet and Mobile Association of India, under whose aegis the code was drafted and finalised in September 2020, and streaming services who have signed onto the code. In response to a query by MediaNama, the IAMAI refused to comment.

Javadekar’s words carry more weight now that the I&B Ministry has been given administrative authority over online news and streaming services. Javadekar’s remarks indicate that the ministry wants stronger self-regulation than what the IAMAI’s code promises, but doesn’t want to get involved in regulation itself (which is contrasted by Javadekar’s personal intervention to get a show on Zee5 and ALT Balaji censored.)

Update (7:28pm): Added refusal to comment by IAMAI.

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