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Wednesday, November 25, 2020

OTT platforms come under govt purview, content creators criticise move

OTT platforms, like Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, SonyLIV, ZEE5, Disney Plus Hotstar among many others, and news websites, will now come under the purview of the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting.

Written by Priyanka Sharma , Sampada Sharma | New Delhi | Updated: November 11, 2020 7:54:13 pm
ott platforms censorshipWeb series makers and other content creators are expressing their displeasure on this move by the government. (Photo: Prime Video, SonyLIV)

OTT platforms, like Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, SonyLIV, ZEE5, Disney Plus Hotstar among many others, and news websites, will now come under the purview of the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, as per a notification issued on Wednesday.

Karan Anshuman, known for directing web series like Inside Edge and Mirzapur, called the move “unacceptable.” He shared on Twitter, “Unacceptable. Viewers and creators have to band together and challenge censorship in any and every manner!”

Filmmaker Hansal Mehta expressed his disappointment at the government’s order. Talking to indianexpress.com, the director said, “While this decision wasn’t unexpected, it is still a reason for despair. This desperation for control of free speech and expression does not augur well. I am currently very disappointed.” Mehta recently saw immense success with his web series Scam 1992. His next film Chhalaang releases on Amazon Prime Video on November 13.

According to actor Chandan Roy Sanyal, only when art is allowed to grow and be free can we achieve a digital revolution. Calling India’s OTT space, a new and young medium, Chandan told indianexpress.com, “It’s the only way where people can express themselves and create exciting content without thinking much. The boom in digital content is happening since a year and a half in this country. I think by controlling it, we’ll miss out on great content.”

Adding that the OTT platforms have also generated a lot of employment, the Aashram Chapter 2 actor hoped “that this law is turned away”. He said, “To be competing with the greatest content which is being created in Europe, US and Far East, we need to be as modern and foresighted as them in telling our stories.”

Also Read | Explained: What OTT platforms coming under IB ministry means for Netflix, others

Director Alankrita Shrivastava, whose Dolly Kitty Aur Chamakte Sitare recently premiered on Netflix, told indianexpress.com, “I don’t know the details of the new decision. But we have been living with censorship in the theatrical and broadcast space since forever. It is a legacy of the British we should have shrugged off long ago. I think the idea of censorship itself is problematic for me regardless of the medium. As a filmmaker working in a free and democratic country, I think there should be no censorship at all on any medium. I think adult citizens who are allowed to vote should be allowed to watch what they want on the big screen or on their phones and computers. I think certifying content for age is fine, but censoring content is not fine. Because censoring films and stories equals to censoring thoughts.”

Karan Bedi, CEO – MX Player, said he looks forward to working with the government in implementing self-regulation code. He said, “We look forward to working with the ministry to implement our industry’s self-regulation efforts. As responsible content creators, we want to ensure this act not only takes cognisance of the nature of the content being released, but also ensures that we safeguard creativity in this rapidly growing sector.”

Actor Kritika Kamra feels the government’s move will change everything for everyone. She wrote on Twitter, “This changes everything. For all of us.”

Director Rahul Dholakia tweeted, “Forget Bihar, Arnab, Biden, Diwali..this is the news that’s going to control the way we think !! It’s like Dracula is the president of the blood bank !! RIP Creativity.”

Also Read | News websites, streaming services now under I&B purview

Screenwriter Aniruddha Guha shared on Twitter, “This is DANGEROUS, and we all need to speak out against it! The OTT and online space is literally the only medium in India that gives creators *some* freedom and security, and throttling independent voices is going to destroy whatever free speech is left in the country!”

Earlier, the government had asked OTT platforms to come up with a self-regulatory mechanism. But, in September, the government expressed displeasure at the model proposed by the Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI). The model was largely rejected because it did not define the code of ethics and was not clear on the definition of prohibited content. The IAMAI was asked to look into the model followed by News Broadcasting Standards Authority (NBSA) and Broadcasting Content Complaints Council (BCCC).

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