Digital news portals, online films, content providers now under I&B Ministry

Government of India has issued an order bringing online films and audio-visual programmes, and online news and current affairs content under the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting. Digital content providers and OTT platforms such as Netflix, Amazon Prime  and others will now come under the ambit of the ministry. At present there is no independent authority to oversee the digital content in the country.

A notification in this regard was issued by the cabinet secretariat stated that “films and audio-visual programmes made available by online content providers and news and current affairs content on online platforms” shall be included in the ‘India (Allocation of Business) Rules, 1961. 

The development has come days after the Supreme Court sought Centre’s response on a PIL seeking regulation on OTT platforms by an autonomous body.

A bench comprising Chief Justice S A Bobde and Justices A S Bopanna and V Ramasubramanian issued notices to the central government, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting and Internet and Mobile Association of India.

“With cinemas theatres unlikely to open anytime soon in the country, OTT/Streaming and different digital media platforms have surely given a way out for filmmakers and artists to release their content without being worried about getting clearance certificates for their films and series from the censor board,” the plea stated.

None of the OTT/Streaming platforms including Netflix, Amazon Prime, Zee5, and Hotstar have signed the self-regulation provided by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting since February 2020, it added.

Information and Broadcasting Minister Prakash Javadekar had said last year that “the government will not take any step that may curb media freedom”. But suggested some kind of regulation for OTT platforms. 

“I have sought suggestions on how to deal with this because there are regular feature films coming on OTT — good, bad, and ugly. So how to deal with this, who should monitor, who should regulate. There is no certification body for OTT platforms and likewise news portals also,” Javadekar had said. 

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