News18»India
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Concerned Over Obscenity and Fake News, Centre Brings Online Content Under I&B Ministry's Ambit

Image for representation.

Image for representation.

There have been petitions too to the I&B ministry to reign in some giant platforms like Netflix, Amazon Prime for its content. Some series like 'Laila' have evoked criticism for stoking dissent, so have there been complaints against violence and sex scenes in many such OTT series and films.

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Pallavi Ghosh

All online news portals and live streaming film apps and content will now come under the information and broadcasting ministry. This means they will now be under regulation of the guidelines of the ministry and will have to follow the rules and regulations.

There has been an increasing demand by a certain section to regulate OTT and online news portals. The complaint has been that they have been at times obscene and abusive and allowed to be stream unfettered.

Till now the online streaming has been under the information and technology ministry but government sources feel that with the lockdown and the growing popularity of OTT, there is a need for it to be brought under I&B ministry.

There have been petitions too to the I&B ministry to reign in some giant platforms like Netflix, Amazon Prime for its content. Some series like Laila have evoked criticism for stoking dissent, so have there been complaints against violence and sex scenes in many such OTT series and films. There has also been growing concern over fake news and provocative writings and current events online portals.

But sources in the government say that the ministry believes in self-regulation and self-discipline and would not censor and creative license is something the government understands given the nature and format of the portals.

"We have to also understand that Indians are sensitive and with schools closed, children spend time in front of television sets and use online enthusiastically. The earlier system of fixed time for adult content doesn’t work anymore. So we have to tune in to the sensitivity of the times and viewers also," a source said.

Predictably, not many of the news portal and online producers would be happy with this. They fear that the online content being brought under the I&B ministry would mean censorship. The clampdown would be in and those who presented a different or dissenting point of view, may be restrained, says Akash Bannerjee who runs the hugely popular desh bhakt online social and political satire portal with 3 million subscriber base across four social media platform.

"India became a IT superpower when the sector was largely free from government regulation. Today, we can be a global content superpower and extend the soft power of India on a global scale. The move to 'regulate' this fledgling sector may land up doing more harm than good," he added.


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