The said self-regulation code has been in works since 2018. In January 2019, several streaming platforms signed a voluntary best practices document that has now extended into its final regulation. The government of India has been reluctant to impose restrictions on OTT platforms, wanting them to regulate themselves, rather than to force the censorship board to step in.
IAMAI (Internet and Mobile Association of India) created the code and would be in effect in useful phases immediately.
The case would be a win-win situation for both the government of India and the officials of those streaming platforms. Having that said, the government no longer has to worry about kids stumbling on to any inappropriate movies. Also, the streaming platforms would be able to work without any interference from the local government.
The 15 streaming platforms that will now regulate themselves under the said code are Netflix, Disney Plus Hotstar, Amazon Prime Video, Zee5, Viacom 18’s Voot, ALTBalaji, Eros Now, MX Player, Discovery Plus, Jio Cinema, HoiChoi, Arre, Flickstree, Hungama, and Shemaroo. SonyLIV is yet to sign the self-regulation code.
Platforms like Netflix already honor the age ratings prevalent in some countries. It’s clear with this move that the streaming platforms would instead work with their competitors rather than making the local government step in.
Netflix has been creating a lot of Netflix originals based in India. This step goes out to show that the officials at Netflix, one of the premium streaming platforms worldwide, acknowledges the vast consumer base in the country.
In a report by Variety, referencing to IAMAI’s statement, it says, “The goal of this industry-wide effort is to empower consumers with information and tools to assist them in making an informed choice with regard to viewing decisions for them and their families, while at the same time, nurturing creativity and providing creators the freedom to tell the finest stories.”
The code includes a framework for age classification and content description for the titles. It also plans to introduce a grievance mechanism for reporting the content that does not comply with the guidelines.
The code also mandates for every streaming service to set up a consumer complaints department, an internal committee, and an advisory panel to deal with such complaints.
The Advisory panel would have a minimum of three members. Out of which, one needs to be an independent external member. The rest two should be senior executives from the respective streaming platform.
The external advisors have to be appointed two months from now, whereas most of the remaining code is effective immediately.
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