Supreme Court Reprimands Govt For Not Regulating Netflix, Prime & Other OTTs; Seeks Immediate Reply

Supreme displeased with the Government for not putting in place a self regulation code for OTT platforms.
Supreme displeased with the Government for not putting in place a self regulation code for OTT platforms.

For over a year and longer, the Government has been working on avenues to regulate the content released on OTT (Over the Top) platforms and digital media.

The Information and Broadcasting Ministry (I&B) has worked closely with the Internet and Mobile Association (IAMA) to draft a self-regulatory regime for the online content presenting bodies.

However, either the regularly improvised drafts presented missing parameters or the OTT platforms like Netflix and Amazon Prime didn’t oblige to it.

Now, after a string of events following the establishment of a self-regulation code, the Supreme Court appeared to be unconvinced with the Government’s efforts and submission on the progress of setting up a regulatory code on OTT platforms.

This notice came on Tuesday, after two advocates filed a plea in the SC seeking a proper body/institution to monitor and regulate the content published by online streaming and digital media platforms.

SC Unconvinced with Govt’s Efforts on Regulating OTT Platforms

Just as the print media has the Press Council of India, films have the Central Board of Film Certification and TV channels are broadly regulated under The Cable Television Networks Regulation Act, there is no institution/official body regulating the content published by  digital media.

The Government has put in a lot of time and effort in drafting a long-awaited and necessary self-regulatory code for online media and OTT platforms, keeping in mind the legal regime ‘should not curtail the freedom enjoyed by the sector’.

On this issue, two advocates Shashank Shekhar Jha and Apurva Arhatia filed a petition to put in place a ‘proper board/institution /association for monitoring and managing the content of different OTT/streaming and digital media platforms’.

Responding to this, the Government stated that it is ‘contemplating’ the regulations put in for OTT platforms, to which the Supreme Court appeared highly unmoved.

Issuing a notice on Tuesday, Chief Justice of India Sharad A. Bobde addressed Additional Solicitor General K.M. Nataraj for the government, and responded, “Everybody in the world can contemplate… You put it out in an affidavit what you are doing.”

Plea Filed in the SC

As per the plea filed by the two advocates in the SC, the absence of a law or autonomous body for monitoring/regulating the content uploaded by digital platforms, which is purely unscreened/unfiltered, needs urgent attendance to.

“Lack of legislation governing OTT/streaming platforms is becoming evident with each passing day and every new case that is filed on these grounds.

The government is facing heat to fill this lacuna with regulations from the public and the judiciary; still the relevant government departments have not done anything significant to regularise these OTT/Streaming Platforms.”, said the plea.

The SC too, initially asked the petitioning advocates to directly tangle in conversation with the Government, however now, the court has sought the government to file a written reply to the petition.

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