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No self-regulatory body for OTT, where would we go, says Gaurav Tiwari who dragged Netflix to court

The National Secretary of BJP’s youth wing, who filed an FIR against the makers of ‘A Suitable Boy’ for shooting kissing scenes between a Hindu girl and a Muslim boy against the backdrop of a Hindu temple, says he would not have approached the police if the OTT industry had a grievance redressal mechanism

Gaurav Tiwari

Absence of a grievance redressal mechanism in the OTT industry is forcing viewers to take their complaints to courts, said Gaurav Tiwari, National Secretary, Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha. 

Last month, Tiwari had filed a complaint against the makers of ‘A Suitable Boy’ for shooting kissing scenes between a Hindu girl and a Muslim boy against the backdrop of a Hindu temple.

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“If the OTT industry had a self-regulatory body, I would have lodged a complaint there before filing an FIR,” he told BestMediaInfo.com. 

“If Netflix can follow a self-regulation code in other countries, why not in India,” he added. 

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Tiwari said he supports the idea of self-regulation. “Our only concern is that there has to be a body to monitor online content in case any questions or issues are raised. A self-regulatory body could be a better solution, but if OTT players won’t agree to that, the government will be left with no options.”

“The government will not interfere unless there is a body to address the grievances. Our Information and Broadcasting Minister wants stakeholders to form their own self-regulatory body where a single point of grievance redressal mechanism is available for consumers of OTT content,” he said. 

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Excerpts: 

You’ve filed a case against Netflix series ‘A Suitable Boy’, alleging that the show has hurt your religious sentiments. What do you think is wrong with the show? 

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As you must have read my application, the kissing scenes in one of the episodes were shot inside the temple premises of Maheshwar. You have the liberty to make love in this country, but why inside the temple? Why in front of the Shivling? Three times in one episode cannot be a coincidence right?

Some experts have rubbished your claims and said one should always factor in creative freedom during storytelling, especially on OTT platforms. What do you have to say to that?

Genuine part of storytelling? Do you really think kissing inside the temple premises was demanded by the story? It wasn’t even a part of the original story written by Vikram Seth. 

They could have shot love-making scenes anywhere but the temple. Creative freedom comes with a responsibility too. 

In a country like India which is diverse and pluralistic, do you want all the OTT platforms and mediums to offer only content catering to a particular constituency?

True, India is diverse and pluralistic. Hence let’s stop looking at it just as a ‘market’. I am sure you can produce content without disrespecting the cultural values of people. 

As I said, ‘unwanted and unnecessary’ things could be avoided.

Should the government or law enforcement agencies intervene in the functioning of this sector?

Our government has been tirelessly working to provide a better future for the creative industry. 

The Central Government itself doesn’t advocate censorship. Our Prime Minister himself believes in freedom of speech. He's of the view that social media empowers citizens and the government is for freedom of speech and expression.

The government invited OTT players to form a self-regulatory body several times. Why can’t they come together and do that?

How does the absence of self-regulation impact the OTT sector?

Where will the grievances go in the absence of a single body under an umbrella of an industry association or some sort of grievance redressal mechanism? If the OTT industry had a self-regulatory body, I would have lodged a complaint there before filing an FIR. But with no place to address grievances, citizens are left with no option but to take it to a court for necessary action.

The government will not interfere unless there is a body to address the grievances. Our Information and Broadcasting Minister wants stakeholders to form their own self-regulatory body where a single point of grievance redressal mechanism is available for consumers of OTT content.

Do you think content regulation of an internet-based platform is going to be successful? If not, why do many countries follow the self-regulatory model for content regulation?

That’s exactly my concern. I have been informed that Netflix complies with self-regulation norms in many countries. Then why not do the same in India? Isn’t that a double standard?

Info@BestMediaInfo.com

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