Self-regulatory codes 2020 for OTTs should be allowed

Synopsis: The government should consider allowing the Over-The-Top (OTT) services to self-regulate themselves.  Recently, they published a new tool kit to implement the self-regulation code of 2020.

Read – Self-regulatory toolkit by OTTs for implementation of Self Regulation Codes, 2020 – ForumIAS Blog


  • The Over-The-Top (OTT) services in India have witnessed an increase in subscription revenues during the Pandemic. The growth has been so significant that major films started releasing over OTTs, against the earlier trends.
  • The growth of OTT and the absence of censorship regulation for the OTT’s supported the growth of creative talent in the film-making industry.
  • However, there are growing concerns regarding the misuse of creative freedom. Many court cases filed against them.
      • For instance, in UP the Amazon Prime Video series has been charged with cyberterrorism, obscenity, promoting social enmity, and defiling places of worship.
      • Similarly, in M.P, a petition has been filed, seeking a court direction to bring OTT channels under the censorship laws.
  • Following these developments, the I&B Ministry stated its intention to bring regulatory code on the content for OTT platforms.
  • In this backdrop, recently the Internet-based Over-The-Top (OTT) services operationalized a self-regulation code. 

Why the government needs to allow the self-regulation code?

  • First, the code of self-regulation is in accordance with the Indian rule of law. It accepts IPC rules, laws on women’s and children’s rights, copyright and age-appropriate certification, and parental control. It also upholds the constitutional right to free speech.
  • Second, it is also consistent with the 2016 Shyam Benegal committee recommendation on film certification. Some important recommendations are,
    • Creative expression should not be curbed in the process of classification of films. It leaves viewing decisions to audiences.
    • Furthermore, it also recommended for classifying films by viewer age.
    • It called for ensuring transparency in the way reviewing bodies are constituted.

The idea of pre-censoring films and forcing arbitrary cuts based on prejudice is against the values of liberal societies. Hence, the self-regulatory code operationalized by the Over-The-Top (OTT) services needs to be given a chance.

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