Inform Us on Steps Taken To Regulate OTT Platforms: SC to Centre

17 OTT platforms have signed a self-regulation code and published a ‘toolkit’ on 11 February to implement the Code.

2 min read
17 OTT platforms have signed a self-regulation code and published a ‘toolkit’ on 11 February to help implement the Code. 

The Supreme Court on Tuesday, 16 February, asked the Centre to inform it of the steps being taken to regulate OTT streaming services. A three-judge bench, headed by Chief Justice SA Bobde, was hearing a PIL seeking the establishment of a body to regulate OTT platforms.

The notice to Centre also comes just days after the Internet & Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) presented a ‘toolkit’ for the implementation of a self-regulation code that has been signed by 17 major OTT services. IAMAI, in consultation with the streaming players, came up with the Code in September 2020.

The Court sought to know from Additional Solicitor General Sanjay Jain the steps taken by the government on the issue. Jain replied that the government was still contemplating measures, Bar & Bench reported.

According to the Bar & Bench report, CJI Bobde said, “We cannot accept mere contemplations. Everybody contemplates. Notice issued and tagged with pending case. Submit an affidavit on steps being taken.”

In October 2020, a three-judge Bench headed by CJI Bobde had directed the Union Information & Broadcasting Ministry as well as IAMAI to respond to the public interest litigation (PIL) petition filed by advocate Shashank Shekhar Jha.

“With cinemas unlikely to open anytime soon in the country, OTT/streaming and different digital media platforms have surely given a way out to filmmakers and artistes to release their content without getting any clearance certificate from the censor board,” Bar & Bench reported, quoting Jha’s plea.

OTT Platforms’ Self-Regulation Code

The Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI), on 11 February, announced the adoption of a ‘toolkit’ to implement the Universal Self-Regulation Code that was signed by 17 major streaming services and put in motion on 4 September 2020.

According to IAMAI, the core purpose of this 'toolkit' is to provide for procedures to implement the provisions of the Code, assist the OTT platforms in fulfilling their commitments and responsibilities, and to achieve effective self-regulation goals as envisioned by the signatories of the Code.

The ‘toolkit’ also aims to address the objections of the Union Information & Broadcasting Ministry to the self-regulation code.

In November, the cabinet secretariat had brought OTT streaming services under the administrative jurisdiction of the I&B Ministry – which has not given its nod to the Code over a perceived lack of independence in the appeals bodies and absence of a list of prohibited content.

The toolkit, seeking to address the Centre’s objections, states that “the signatories have agreed to adhere to all applicable laws of the land.”

These include the IT Act, Indian Penal Code, 1860; Indecent Representation of Women (Prohibition) Act, 1986; Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967; Contempt of Courts Act, Official Secrets Act. This has been done ostensibly to address the Ministry’s objections related to the absence of a list of prohibited content in the self-regulation code.

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