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Streaming services step up compliance with IT Rules, appoint grievance officers and more

The current picture of streaming services’ compliance with the IT Rules shows that they have largely bowed down.

Streaming services in India have been complying more with the Information Technology (Intermediary Liability and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021 over the last few weeks, a review by MediaNama has revealed. When we last checked in on the streamers’ compliance in May, only two operators were fully compliant with all the provisions of the law that we evaluated them against. As of August 27, though, at least eight streaming services are substantially compliant, and only two services — YouTube Premium and Hungama Play — have not improved their compliance at all. You can read the full status of each streaming service we evaluated below, along with comments, if any, received by the streaming service in question.

Streaming services have largely bowed down to the IT Rules. While they have concerns, they have only addressed them to the government directly, and have not gone to court. This stands in contrast to social media companies like Facebook and multiple news organisations, who have challenged the Rules at High Courts around the country. Even with this silent acquiescence to the Rules, the streaming platforms have both fallen afoul of these Rules while also applying excess censorship to their content in India, apparently cautious of blowback from viewers and the government.

What the IT Rules require from streaming platforms: 

  • Appoint a resident grievance officer and make their details available on their website
  • Dispose of complaints received from the general public
  • Have standardised age ratings (U, U/A 7+, U/A 13+, U/A 16+, and A)
  • Display content descriptors for content that may be inappropriate for certain audiences
  • Set up parental controls
  • Publish monthly reports of compliance

Where compliance stands

The following table outlines the current picture of streaming services’ compliance with the IT Rules in India. You can see the one published in May here. In addition to the following metrics, we also asked if they had published compliance reports under the Rules on the complaints they received. While most streaming services did not respond to our queries, none addressed this point even if they did respond. Only MX Player seems to have a link to a compliance report on its website, but this link is inaccessible as of writing this report.

  1. Netflix has listed a grievance redressal officer for content as well as non-content, has a complaint redressal mechanism for India, has age ratings that comply with the government’s standards, has content descriptors for mature content, and has put in place parental control mechanisms. The company declined to comment for this story, just as they had the last time.
  2. Amazon Prime Video has appointed Phoram Thanna as grievance officer and has a process described on its website to submit a grievance. Its age ratings are now in compliance with IT Rules requirements. The company did not return a request for comment.
  3. Disney+ Hotstar has a grievance redressal officer, a complaint mechanism, and age ratings. It is now fully compliant with age rating requirements and parental controls requirements. The company did not return a request for comment.
  4. ZEE5 is fully compliant with the metrics we evaluated; they lacked compliant age ratings and content descriptors last time we checked. The company did not respond to a request for comment.
  5. Sony LIV has a complaint mechanism and a grievance redressal officer listed on a document hosted on its website. It has age ratings compliant with the government’s standards and has content descriptors for the content along with parental controls.
  6. JioCinema did not comply with any of the IT Rules’ requirements last time, but now it has a grievance officer and a complaint mechanism. However, it does not have parental controls or content descriptors for its titles. Jio did not return a request for comment.
  7. Hoichoi has a complaint mechanism and a parental control feature, but still does not comply with other requirements; the company did not respond to a request for comment.
  8. Lionsgate Play is fully compliant; the company only commented to correct an earlier evaluation of their compliance by MediaNama and did not respond to our other queries.
  9. Apple TV+ is compliant with most requirements, except for the content descriptors required by the Rules. Apple did not return a request for comment.
  10. YouTube Premium does not have a grievance redressal officer, but does have a generic legal form that can be used for legal requests around the world. Age ratings are present, but not compliant with government standards. Content descriptors are not present for YouTube Originals, and parental controls are not available either. Google did not return a request for comment.
  11. Aha is compliant with most requirements but does not yet have content descriptors. The Telugu-focused streaming service did not return a request for comment.
  12. SunNXT has increased compliance with the IT Rules, and only lacks content descriptors and parental controls. We were unable to reach the company for comment.
  13. MX Player is fully compliant. The company did not respond to a request for comment.
  14. Voot is fully compliant. The company did not respond to a request for comment.
  15. ShemarooMe is mostly compliant, but its age ratings are not compliant with IT Rules requirements, and it has no content descriptors. The company did not respond to a request for comment.
  16. Discovery Plus has age ratings that are not compliant with government standards. It has a complaint system with a grievance officer listed in its privacy policy. It has parental controls, but no content descriptors. The company refused to comment.
  17. Hungama Play remains as partially compliant as before: it has partially implemented a version of content descriptors, and has a complaint mechanism, but is not compliant with other requirements. The company did not respond to requests for comment.

Correction (September 2): Discovery+ has a grievance officer, but this was listed on the company’s privacy policy, as opposed to its terms and conditions that we originally cited, which say that complainants should first email a generic email address of the company. We regret the error.

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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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