After 'Tandav' row, OTT platforms to have guidelines

After 'Tandav' row, OTT platforms to have guidelines

Several programmes have come under criticism with a section claiming that their sentiments were hurt due to the programmes

Representative image. Credit: iStock Photo

The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting will be soon issuing guidelines for OTT (Over-The-Top) platforms amid a number of complaints against some programmes streamed online, the latest being a political drama 'Taandav'.

Information and Broadcasting Minister Prakash Javadekar said the government has received a lot of complaints against some programmes available on OTT platforms.

"Films and serials released on OTT platforms and digital newspapers do not come under the purview of the Press Council Act, Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Act or Censor Board. We will come up with some guidelines on it soon," Javadekar told reporters here on Sunday.

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Several programmes have come under criticism with a section claiming that their sentiments were hurt due to the programmes.

FIRs were recently registered in several states against the makers and actors of Saif Ali Khan-starrer Tandav following complaints against the inappropriate depiction of UP Police personnel as well as the character playing the role of prime minister in the show.

Tandav is a nine-part drama in which Dimple Kapadia and Mohd Zeeshan Ayyub also have important roles besides Saif. It had started streaming on January 15 on Amazon Prime Video.

Earlier, a kissing scene in a temple premise in 'A Suitable Boy' also triggered a controversy.

Last November, the government had brought online content -- news on digital platforms as well as audio-visual programmes on OTT platforms like Netflix and Amazon Prime -- under the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting to enable it to frame policies on its functioning. So far, there is no law governing digital content and the government cannot regulate it.

The Cabinet Secretariat issued a gazette notification on Tuesday night bringing "films and audio-visual programmes made available by online content providers" and news and current affairs content on online platforms" under the ambit of the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting by amending the Government of India (Allocation of Business) Rules.

Read | 'Tandav' stirs controversy, but it’s not the only one

This move came amid demands from a section seeking regulation of online content. While the print media is monitored by the Press Council of India, there is no regulatory body by the government or the industry to regulate online content. The News Broadcasters Association (NBA) monitors news channels while the Advertising Standards Council of India looks after advertisements and the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) looks into films.

The amendment now will give the Ministry power to formulate policies related to news, audio, visual contents and films available on online platforms.

In 2019, Javadekar had said that there should be some kind of regulation for over-the-top platforms like the there is for the print, electronic media and films though he insisted that the Narendra Modi government would not impinge on media freedom.

The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting had also written to the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology asking ways to transfer the latter's power to it for regulating online content on OTT platforms without amending the Information and Technology Act 2000.