The entertainment business in India not only generates a lot of money, but it also provides a lot of content for movies, TV episodes, web series, music, and videos. Individual engagement in the cyber world is rising as a result of technical advancements. Many individuals watch networks like Hotstar, Zee5, Sony Liv, Prime, and others. In this article, we will attempt to identify and evaluate various existing censorship regulations, as well as provide required suggestions from various OTT platforms in India. In India, censorship remains largely a tool of state involvement, defined and regulated by the law’s boundaries.
The state’s job is to rule by establishing and executing public policy. In a democracy, the evolution of public policy is inextricably tied to the satisfaction of citizens’ demands. The media and entertainment industry has experienced a paradigm shift in volume and demand for diversified content via platforms in recent years, and there are several divisions in the industry that merge into a vertical, Movies, Television, Music, Publishing, Radio, Internet, Advertisement, and Gaming segments to access the content, leaving viewers to choose.
The media and entertainment sector aspires to be on par with the best-in-class organisations in other industries in terms of organisational quality and benchmarking. The primary improvements are in line with how analysis, budgeting, content production, and distribution management are combined with competent project management.
Keywords: Censorship, Online Content Regulation, and OTT (Over the Top) and Types
What are OTT platforms?
Over-the-top platforms, also known as audio and video hosting and streaming services, began as content hosting platforms but quickly expanded to include the creation and distribution of short films, feature films, documentaries, and web series.
These platforms offer a wide range of material and employ artificial intelligence to make recommendations based on your prior experiences with the site. The majority of fully paid platforms offer some free material and charge a monthly membership fee for premium content that is not available anywhere else. 30 platforms frequently generate and distribute premium content in conjunction with trendy production companies that have previously produced feature films.
Because OTT platforms are such a new type of entertainment in India, there are no laws or regulations governing them.
Evolution and Rise of OTTs:
The entire notion of visual entertainment began with a few television channels and has now expanded to include mobile phones, personal computers, and Smart TVs.
With people’s lives becoming busy, they need somewhere they can go whenever they want rather than being confined to a certain time in front of the television. We have all been using OTTs without realising it for a long time. The most enticing feature of an OTT is that it can be used and accessed at any time and from any location that has an online connection.
Another enticing feature of these OTT platforms is the huge range of visual material available, which is persuading a rising number of people to use this new technology. Furthermore, this material diversity is enhanced by access to customer data, which means that a user will receive content recommendations based on his preferences or prior movie interests, such as Horror, Sci-Fi, and Action, among others, which is a fantastic feature.
Types of OTTs:
- SVOD (Subscription Video on Demand)- It is a type of service that allows a customer to access an entire library of films, original series, and videos for a set monthly fee. This cost will be collected monthly or annually, depending on the customer’s preference. As long as a user’s membership is active, he can view as many films and movies as he likes on the channel to which he has subscribed. Netflix, Hotstar, Zee5, and Amazon Prime Video are some of the SVOD OTT providers available.
- TVOD (transactional video on demand)- TVOD is the polar opposite of subscription video, in which viewers pay per watch for content. Electronic sell- through (EST), in which you pay once for permanent access to a piece of material, and download to rent (DTR), in which consumers access a piece of content for a short period for a lower cost, are the two sub-categories.1
TVOD providers tend to offer more current releases, resulting in more income for rights holders and faster access to new material for viewers. Customers are generally retained by TVOD providers by providing appealing pricing incentives, which encourage them to return in the future.
- AVOD (Ad-supported Video on Demand)- Ad-Supported Video on Demand (AVOD) is a free digital video service supported by advertisements. In this approach, ad income is utilised to offset production and hosting costs as well as to monetize content. YouTube, Dailymotion, Sling TV, Roku, and Fubo TV are examples of this sort of OTT service.2
Pros & Cons of Censorship:
In response to Divya Ganeshprasad Gontia’s PIL, the Bombay High Court has given notice to the I&B Ministry, the Union Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology, the Ministry of Law and Justice, the Ministry of Home Affairs, and the Nagpur police commissioner, requesting their responses. The court has recommended that a pre-screening committee be established to oversee films and series that are published straight on internet platforms such as Netflix and Hotstar. As a result, it is apparent that censorship of web series and digital material is highly likely.5
However, Netflix, Hotstar, Al Balaji, Sony Liv, and other online companies have signed a self-censorship pact prohibiting signatories from broadcasting any content that has been prohibited by Indian courts. Amazon Prime Video, the e-commerce giant’s streaming service, has opted out of the code, claiming that existing regulations are sufficient.
While the possibility of censorship has elicited varied reactions from the Indian film business and the general public on social media, it is critical to grasp the benefits and drawbacks
- The web series and digital media material are easily available to everybody due to their vast reach. When children are exposed to information that contains violence, harsh language, or sex, they are at a significant disadvantage.
- People have made legal complaints in recent years over harsh material on digital platforms, calling for regulation of series and films distributed on the internet that have the potential to cause harm.
5 Divya Ganeshprasad Gontia V. Union of India.https://legaldesire.com/bombay-hc-issued-notice-to-mha-ib- law-ministry-over-regulation-of-web-series-seeks-reply-by-oct-31/
- According to the Central Board of Film Certification (Encyclopedia)6,. the casual use of sex and obscene language in such online series is a lure to attract viewers. This raises the question of whether the internet entertainment business should be left unregulated, as well as the implications for minors.
- Some individuals are concerned about the growing impact of foreign culture that web series and movies promote; nevertheless, censorship will help to regulate this to some level.
- Producer Ritesh Sidhwani, who has worked on shows including “Inside Edge” and “Mirzapur,” feels that censoring will detract from the story’s uniqueness. He stated that it is the obligation of the filmmakers to ensure that the information is accurate and that only the truth is depicted.
- People believe that by regulating the web series business, politicians will just be covering up for a reality that already exists in some jurisdictions.
- The censoring rule is being criticised because some believe it restricts the flexibility and creativity of Indian filmmakers, who are already at a disadvantage owing to content restrictions.
- People also believe that paying attention to the ratings offered is more essential than suppressing the material. Furthermore, it is the audience’s obligation to view the information with respect.
6 Censor Board (CBFC), Britannica, The Editors of Encyclopaedia. “Central Board of Film Certification”. Encyclopedia Britannica, 2 Dec. 2014. Accessed 8 July 2021.https://www.britannica.com/topic/Central-Board-of-Film-Certification
Any profit-making firm may benefit from India’s large population. With one of the highest levels of online material consumption, online regulating measures would boost existing viewership. Because our country’s unique feature is its unity in diversity and a family-oriented culture, creating family-friendly material would do more benefit than harm. We need to create a collaborative system between lawmakers and content creators so that they can grasp the subtleties of their respective fields and create legislation that is advantageous to both sides. Every privilege comes with limitations, which must not be disregarded in the sake of showcasing art or expressing an opinion. Filmmakers must be aware of the influence their work has on children’s minds, and they must be held socially accountable for their acts. Censorship is a tool for bringing out the truth in a dignified manner, rather than suppressing it.
It cannot be denied that streaming services such as Netflix and Amazon Prime have a large audience and assist Indian filmmakers in showcasing their true talent. However, there are legitimate worries about information that is nuanced or violent. As a result, self-censorship looks to be a viable option.
13 Gurdeepinder Singh Dhillon v. Union of India, CWP-8089-2020, https://www.livelaw.in/pdf_upload/pdf_upload-376543.pdf
- https://legaldesire.com/bombay-hc-issued-notice-to-mha-ib-law-ministry-over- regulation-of-web-series-seeks-reply-by-oct-31/
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