Netflix, Prime Video, Online News Portals to Come Under Information Ministry's Ambit

Image source: Unsplash

Image source: Unsplash

The new government notification was signed by President Ram Nath Kovind. Until, now streaming platforms like Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, and Disney+ Hotstar were unregulated by the government

The Central government has issued a notification that brings films and audio-visual content made by over-the-top (OTT) platforms such as Netflix and Amazon Prime Video under the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting. The government notification further highlights that digital news outlets would also fall under the purview of the said ministry. The new government notification that was signed by President Ram Nath Kovind comes a month after the Supreme Court had sought the Centre's response over a PIL for regulating OTT platforms by an autonomous body in India. The new order by the government may lead to censorship of content available on these platforms.

Until now, no law or autonomous body was governing these online streaming platforms. Similarly, I&B Minister Prakash Javadekar had previously said that the government would not take any steps that may curb media freedom, although he had indicated that some kind of regulations on OTT platforms is required. The new order from the government reads, "In the Government of India (Allocation of Business) Rules, 1961, in the second schedule under the heading 'Ministry of Information and Broadcasting' after entry 22, the following sub-heading and entries shall be inserted, namely: Films and audio-visual programmes made available by online content providers; news and current affairs content on online platforms." The move could be a blow to both small and big production houses that gained popularity by publishing content on these platforms that otherwise would have faced government's scrutiny over censorship. Several series available on these platforms like Sacred Games, Mirzapur, The Family Man, and so on had garnered favourable reviews from both critics and audience.

Similarly, news media outlets are also unregulated by the government, although there are autonomous bodies that act as watchdogs in India. At present, the Press Council of India takes note of the print media while the autonomous body, News Broadcasters Association takes care of the news channels. However, TV news organisations have to seek broadcasting rights from the government. At the moment, OTT platforms like Netflix and Amazon as well as online news platforms are yet to respond to the government's notification.

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