Days after I&B Minister Prakash Javadekar informed the Rajya Sabha Tuesday that the government was ready with guidelines and directions for OTT platforms and it could be implemented anytime soon, the Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) has come up with a comprehensive Implementation Toolkit, one of the reasons given out by the government while rejecting the association’s self-regulatory model in September last year.
The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting had advised IAMAI looking at the structures of NBSA (News Broadcasting Standards Authority) and BCCC (Broadcasting Content Complaints Council) as guiding principles for developing a credible self-regulatory model for OTT platforms.
The Ministry had suggested a two-tier structure for the regime. “In the self-regulatory mechanism which has been constituted, it is observed that there is no classification of prohibited content, the second tier (advisory panel) is constituted by OCCP (online curated content providers) itself (as against an independent organisation like DCCP or the Digital Curated Content Complaints Council proposed earlier)."
The proposed self-regulatory mechanism lacks independent third-party monitoring, does not have a well-defined code of ethics, does not clearly enunciate prohibited content, and at the second and third-tier level there is an issue of conflict of interest, the MIB had said.
IAMAI said the Tool Kit is in furtherance to the Universal Self-Regulation Code (“Code”) for Online Curated Content Providers (“OCCP”) that was put in motion on September 4, 2020. “The core purpose of this Tool Kit is to provide for procedures to effectuate the various provisions of the Code; assist the signatories in fulfilling their commitments and responsibilities as set out in the Code; and to achieve effective self-regulation goals as envisioned by the signatories in the Code. Importantly, the effort of the Signatories, through this Tool Kit, is to also address feedback received from Ministry of Information and Broadcasting inter-alia, on the issues of conflict of interest and prohibited content.”
The Code has been adopted by seventeen (17) leading Online Curated Content Providers in India. The present set of signatories include ZEE5, Viacom 18 (Voot), Disney+Hotstar, Amazon Prime Video, Netflix, SonyLiv, MX Player, Jio Cinema, Eros Now, Alt Balaji, Arre, HoiChoi, Hungama, Shemaroo, Discovery Plus, Aha and Lionsgate Play. The Tool Kit is effective from 10 February 2021.
The all-inclusive “Implementation Toolkit” will assist signatories in seamless transition to self-regulation and guide them on various dimensions like:
- Relevant laws of the land which will be adhered to by the signatories
- Fair and transparent functioning of the grievance redressal mechanism, with escalation to an Advisory Panel with independent members
- Training programs for creative and legal teams of OCCPs to enhance the knowledge and nuances of laws that govern content
- Awareness programs for consumers to help increase understanding and use of age rating, content descriptor & parental controls
- Implementation of a detailed audit and compliance mechanism
Amit Goenka, Chair, Digital Entertainment Committee, IAMAI, said, “The Universal Self-Regulation Code, which is signed by the Country’s top video streaming services marks a watershed moment in the history of the online streaming industry. Today, with the adoption of ‘Implementation Toolkit’, it further strengthens our (OCCPs) commitment to augment consumer empowerment and creative excellence for the Indian entertainment industry to grow multifold. This Tool Kit amplifies all the critical points that were addressed in the Code signed last year and aims to address feedback received from the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, particularly on strengthening the grievance redressal mechanism. It further sets out clear tentpoles that the OCCPs need to undertake to achieve a common goal of entertaining millions of Indians responsibly.”
Furthermore, IAMAI will constitute first of its kind ‘IAMAI Secretariat for the Code’ comprising of representatives of the signatories to the Code and IAMAI which will administer the implementation of the Code and the Toolkit.
IAMAI said it aims to develop a process to seek periodic updates from the Signatories regarding their progress with respect to compliance with the provisions of the Code.