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IAMAI sets up Digital Publishers Council for OTT platforms

The Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI), an industry body for technology businesses and startup, has set up a Digital Publishers Content Grievance Council (DPCGC) as a self-regulatory body for streaming platforms.

Under the Information Technology Rules 2021, over-the-top (OTT) platforms need to abide by a newly created grievance redressal and oversight mechanism. According to the rules, each OTT platform needs to have an internal grievance department and key personnel to oversee this grievance system. Further, each publisher needs sign up to a Self-Regulatory Organisation, which will be the second layer of the oversight framework. At the third level, will be an inter-departmental committee headed by a Secretary in the Information and Broadcasting Ministry.

The three layers of oversight are meant to address grievances that members of the public file. Under the rules, the platforms need to take action against every grievance they receive within 15 days, and each complainant has the ability to appeal against the publishers’ decision to either the publishers’ SRO or the government committee. They can file grievances with the SRO or government directly as well.

On May 26, the government appointed Vikram Sahay, Joint Secretary (Policy and Administration) in the I&B Ministry, as the ‘Authorised Officer’ in charge of administering these rules through the ministry-level Oversight Mechanism.

In a communique, issued on the same day, the I&B Ministry’s Digital Media Division instructed digital-only media entities, over-the-top streaming platforms and traditional media companies to send information about their operations and compliance with the new rules to the ministry within 15 days

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According to a statement by the IAMAI, the DPCGC will have a council composed of streaming platforms as members and an independent Grievance Redressal Board; consisting of a chairperson and six members. “The GRB will be chaired by a retired Supreme Court/High Court judge, and the members would comprise eminent persons from the media and entertainment industry, experts from various fields including child rights, minority rights and media law,” the industry body said.

The DPCGC board will ensure that all its members adhered to Code of Ethics prescribed under the rules and will address all  grievances which have not been resolved by the platform within 15 days. It will hear grievances/appeals filed by complainants directly.

“IAMAI and members of the DPCGC are deeply committed to protecting consumer rights and empowering consumers with the right tools to make informed decisions, as well as have their grievances addressed. The formation of this body is an important step towards consumer choice, as more and more people are viewing content online,” said Subho Ray, President IAMAI.

The IAMAI said that it has informed the I&B Ministry that it will set up the DPCGC, which will function as the SRO entity within the over-arching oversight mehanism. Ten platforms have so far consented to be represented by the IAMAI’s new council:

  • Alt Balaji
  • Amazon Prime Video
  • Arha Media
  • Firework
  • Hoichoi
  • Hungama
  • Lionsgate Play
  • MX Player
  • Netflix
  • Shemaroo

“IAMAI is also awaiting confirmations from several other such digital publishers,” it said.

On Thursday MediaNama emailed queries officials in I&B Ministry, seeking clarification if there is an eligibility criteria and guidelines for industry bodies and SROs looking to represent various digital media publishers and platforms.

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