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OTTs like Netflix, Amazon vetting content scripts following Tandav fury: Report

OTT streaming services like Netflix and Amazon Prime Video are now vetting scripts and content to weed out and delete content that might get them into trouble with Indian viewers, reports Reuters. The news agency cited five film producers and directors that work with the platforms. This could bear out the worst fear of content regulation, that streaming services will muzzle creators’ voices in anticipation of outrage, all before regulations even go into force in India. Netflix and Amazon Prime Video declined to comment.

Amazon in particular has been under enormous pressure since right-wing groups have been after its India content head, Aparna Purohit, filing multiple FIRs in various parts of the country, for scenes that they found offensive in the TV show Tandav. Amazon cut those scenes, and later apologised in a statement, committing to “continue to develop entertaining content with partners, while complying with the laws of India and respecting the diversity of culture and beliefs of our audiences.” Netflix, Reuters reported, is watching the Tandav case closely.

The Intermediary Liability Rules, 2021, notified last week, set up a mechanism for viewers to complain about content on streaming services that offends them. Such complaints can be elevated to a self-regulatory organisation and eventually to the government, which can block the content if it wans to. However, the Supreme Court on Friday said that these Rules were too weak, and provisions for prosecuting non-compliant services were required.

Correction (5:30pm): A previous version of this story said that the Reuters report said that Amazon and Netflix in particular were screening scripts to censor content. The report says that “Companies like Amazon’s Prime Video and Netflix” are doing this, and not those exact companies necessarily. We regret the error.

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