Over-the-top platforms also called OTT platforms are the new way of entertaining people and providing people with short films, feature films, documentaries, and web series. Days are gone when people used to watch movies and tv shows on television, now everybody is watching it on their phones and laptops through these OTT platforms. In several years India has seen an incredible increase in consumption of video material through these online platforms. OTT platforms are a new source of entertainment in India these days, but in India there are no laws that are there to govern the content shown on these platforms. There are many streaming platforms available in India like Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hot star, etc. Unlike the content provided by cinema that have a regulatory body controlling the content streamed, these streaming platforms do not have a controlling or a governing body over them and they enjoy their freedom to show whatever they want to show. As lockdown was had put all the people at home, this e-commerce bloomed like anything. All these streaming platforms have seen a growth of all most 50% in the amount of people using these platforms and till now people see these platforms for better content and their value for money.
On 11th November 2020, the central government issued a notification that these streaming bodies will be governed and come under the Information and Broadcasting Ministry. Before this notification they were governed or controlled under the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology. This move made by the government caused fears of censorship of content that is showed by these streaming platforms, because the content that is showed on television has censorship over them and it is also controlled by this body.
The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, or any law or Justice, CBFC or any other authority does not have power over these platforms. These platforms are intermediaries where the government cannot exercise jurisdiction. In a recent scenario, Bihar Chief Minister, Nitish Kumar communicated to the government to take actions regarding regulation of content showed by these platforms. He stated that these platforms are not censored, and the content showed by them are objectionable and is related to violence, sex, vulgarity and thus it has a negative impact on the minds of the vulnerable people and the people or children should not be allowed to see all these things at an early age.
Since, the provisions related to streaming platforms are not clear and are ambiguous, so the content that is being showed is unfiltered and uncensored. There has been an alarming issue relating to the irrelevant content being shown in these streaming platforms all over the country. The warning displayed in the films shown in these platforms are displayed in a way that it is meaningless and easy to avoid. The lockdown that is imposed in the county has almost made there reach increase by a lot. The Ministry of information and broadcasting is actively debating about the censorship of content showed in these platforms but is going to take some time to decide regarding it.
So, the central government has taken steps to make all the production by these platforms to be under the scope of Cinematography Act, 1952 and all the production done by these platforms are subject to get clearance from CBFC (central board of film certification), so that the content can be made as per law and accountable to law.
LAWS RELATED TO CENSORSHIP OF CONTENT SHOWN ON THESE OTT PLATFORMS:
Law that is applicable to the streaming platforms like these are, Cinematography Act, 1952. Section 4 of such act states that any person who wants to show a film to the public should get a certificate from Central Board of Film Certification. This is done by the committee that censors the content that is showed to the public, this committee is formed under Rule 22 of Cinematography(certification) Rules. The committee analysis the content and then specifies or rates the content accordingly. The certificate provided by CBFC is required to show the people such film and the television broadcasters are required to ask for such certificate before streaming these films to the public. So, the streaming platforms should also require these certificates to show these kinds of content to the public.
There has always been a thin skin in India for obscenity and it is well known. It is defined under Section 292 of Indian Penal Code, 1860. The law is applicable to any content irrespective of their mode of streaming it, so these Ott platforms cannot show any content that is in contravention of this law. There has been a lot of complaints regarding showing of obscenity in films and they have been addressed by the courts.
CENSORSHIP OF OTT PLATFORMS: RIGHT OR WRONG:
From my point of view most of the people that are in support of censorship are above the age of 40 years. The content shown on these platforms are available on subscription basis, so the people watching these shows have a choice whether to watch or not. People have a choice which part to watch and which part to skip, these platforms are showing content based on demand, as during lockdown most of the people are watching shows for entertainment on these platforms the need for censorship has increased.
Censorship of these streaming platforms in a way is right as most of the population watching these shows and short films are children, so the content shown on these platforms should be censored so that the children do not get a bad influence after watching these shows. Every person has a right to watch what he wants, but there are certain restrictions that are put on the kind of content shown to children and that is right, so of there will be no censorship of content on these platforms, children might get bad influence and they might do wrong just because they are seeing wrong. It is very difficult for any parent control what kind of things their children watch over internet, but if correct rules and regulating body is put over the OTT platforms it can be insured that the right kind of content is shown to the public.
I have always been against Glorifying Over Work and therefore, in the year 2021, I have decided to launch this campaign “Balancing Life”and talk about this wrong practice, that we have been following since last few years. I will be talking to and interviewing around 1 lakh people in the coming 2021 and publish their interview regarding their opinion on glamourising Over Work.
If you are interested in participating in the same, do let me know.
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