Indian Government brings OTT platforms under Censorship

Netflix and Amazon in their brand of web series’ featuring copious amounts of violence, nudity and coarse language
Indian Government bring OTT platforms under Censor Board

Censorship for OTT platforms are absent and it has been in discussion for quite sometime now. Not having censorship gives the makers have the freedom to now make content which was exactly what they wanted to make. On the other hand with out censorship, entertainment could easily be exploited in the name of art.

The OTT business in India, which is less than five years old, pushed the envelope in terms of creating bold content. Without the pressure of certification from India’s central board of film certification, originals on Netflix and Amazon Prime, for instance, could escape the snip when it came to violence, nudity, and coarse language.

Ever since OTT players like Netflix, Amazon Prime and the like gained popularity over the past couple of years in the country, there have been criticism of their content. While some were uncomfortable with the edgy content which was not subject to any censoring unlike satellite TV channels.

Earlier, major OTT platforms, including Netflix, Disney Plus Hotstar, Amazon Prime Video, Zee5, Voot, Jio Cinema, ALTBalaji, Eros Now, Hungama and Shemaroo, have signed a self regulation code, to govern their curated streaming content. They aim to do this by adhering to disclosures such as, specifying maturity ratings and content descriptors (e.g., language, violence, sex).

Now the central government have brought online streaming and content providers and news websites under the ambit of the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting.

The central government’s move to bring the OTT platforms under the I&B Ministry could also mean that these platforms would have to apply for certification and approval of the content they wish to stream. This in itself could give rise to many conflicts as most OTT platforms have content that could otherwise be censored by the certification boards in India.

Content creators and websites are hopeful that the change will remain an administrative one. Censorship can often be a slippery slope, and India’s multi-hued OTT universe would do everything it can to avoid regulation or even being banned.

So far, Covid-19 has swung things in favour of OTT platforms, especially as cinema halls were shut for the most part of this year. Netflix, Hotstar, and Amazon Prime bagged rights to Bollywood film releases, unlike the pre-pandemic model where films would only reach OTT platforms after running in movie theatres for weeks.

Would this new notification disrupt that success? If it brings censorship in tow, it can.


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