Indian government announces 'code of ethics' for OTT players and digital media
OTT platforms are required to follow broad content guidelines meant for TV and print media, while social media platforms should set up redressal systems for complaints
The Indian government has announced a 'code of ethics' and a three-tier grievance redressal mechanism, which would be applicable for news publishers, over-the-top (OTT) platforms, and digital media networks.
Seeking to establish a soft-touch regulatory framework for these entities, the government said OTT platforms (like Netflix and Amazon Prime Video) would have to self-classify the content into five age-based categories - U (Universal), U/A 7+ (years), U/A 13+, U/A 16+, and A (Adult).
Briefing reporters, Information and Broadcasting Minister Prakash Javadekar said such platforms would be required to implement parental locks for content classified as U/A 13+ or higher, and reliable age-verification mechanisms for content classified as A.
The publishers of online curated content will also have to prominently display the classification rating specific to the content, along with a content descriptor informing the user about the nature of the content, he added. This would help viewers assess the nature of content at the beginning of every programme, and make an informed decision, prior to watching the same.
Publishers of news on digital media would be required to observe the Norms of Journalistic Conduct of the Press Council of India and the Programme Code under the Cable Television Networks Regulation Act, providing a level-playing field between offline (Print, TV) and digital media, an official statement said.
A three-level grievance redressal mechanism has been established under the rules with different levels of self-regulation, wherein level-1 would be self-regulation by the publishers; level-2 self-regulation by the self-regulating bodies of the publishers; and level-3 would be oversight mechanism.
The rules state a publisher will have to appoint a grievance redressal officer, based in India, who will be responsible for the redressal of grievances received by it. The officer will make a decision on every grievance received within 15 days.
The rules also note that there may be one or more self-regulatory bodies of publishers.
Such a body will be headed by a retired judge of the Supreme Court, a High Court, or an independent eminent person, and it will not have more than six members. Such a body will have to register with the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting.
This body will oversee the adherence by the publisher to the Code of Ethics and address grievances that have not been resolved by the publisher within 15 days, the statement said.
In addition, the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting shall formulate an oversight mechanism and will publish a charter for self-regulating bodies, including Codes of Practices. It shall establish an Inter-Departmental Committee for hearing grievances.