The Government’s Code of Ethics for OTT and Digital Media creats a discussion among the leading OTT players

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After the Government reported the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules 2021 for OTT and Digital Media a week ago, leading OTT players met on March 1, 2021 to ponder on the implications of these Code of Ethics. 

The Economic Times has revealed that meeting was held under the aegis of the Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI), where the OTT players additionally considered whether IAMAI ought to be designated as a sole administrative body with the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting. 

As revealed before, IAMAI had finalized a set of rules under its ‘implementation toolkit’ for the OTT business, making a stride towards self-guideline. As indicated by a FICCI release, the self-guideline code gave by the IAMAI had commanded each OCCP (online curated content provider) to set-up a Consumer Complaints Department or potentially an inside council just as an advisory panel to manage protests, requests, and escalations. Be that as it may, the Government was not satisfied and had coordinated IAMAI to think about other administrative models. The Government was of the view that the code needed independent third-party monitoring. Moreover, it doesn’t have a very much characterized code of morals and neglects to articulate denied content sufficiently. 

IAMAI had as of late consented to a Universal Self-Regulatory code with MIB, which has been embraced by 17 of the main online curated content stages in the country. “The self-regulatory code, which is under execution, viably conveys on the objective of giving strong consumer protection, while conveying a strong establishment for content suppliers to work from,” IAMAI said in a statement issued. 

IAMAI in its assertion communicated its dismay over some media reports expressing that the Government plans to advise rules for OTT streaming stages shortly. 

But soon after the Government reported the new Code of Ethics, Dr. Subho Ray, President, IAMAI, said, “IAMAI has invited the much anticipated Intermediary Guidelines 2021. The Guidelines zeroed in basically on a consumer complaint, will help buyers of online curated content, web-based media clients and online news and current affairs settle their protests in a process-oriented way.” 

While finishing these Rules, both the Ministries of Electronics and Information Technology (MEITY) and Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (MIB) embraced consultations among themselves to have an amicable, delicate touch oversight mechanism concerning online media platforms as well as digital media and OTT stages, and so on.

Digital Media Ethics Code Relating to Digital Media and OTT Platforms to Be Administered by Ministry of Information and Broadcasting: 

There have been boundless concerns about issues identifying with digital content both on digital media and OTT stages. Civil Society, film producers, political pioneers including Chief Minister, trade organizations, and affiliations have all voiced their interests and featured the basic requirement for a suitable institutional mechanism. The Government likewise got numerous complaints from common society and parents mentioning interventions. There were many court procedures in the Supreme Court and High Courts, where courts additionally asked the Government to take reasonable measures. 

Since the matter identifies with digital stages, therefore, a decision was taken that issues identifying with digital media and OTT and other inventive programs on Internet will be administered by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting however the general engineering will be under the Information Technology Act, which administers digital platforms. 

Consultations:

The Rules establish a soft-touch self-regulatory architecture and a Code of Ethics and a 3-Tier grievance redressal mechanism for news publishers and OTT Platforms and digital media.

Notified under section 87 of Information Technology Act, these Rules empower the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting to implement Part – III of the Rules, which prescribe the following:

Code of Ethics for online news, OTT platforms, and digital media: This Code of Ethics prescribe the guidelines to be followed by OTT platforms and online news and digital media entities.

Self-Classification of Content: The OTT platforms, called the publishers of online curated content in the rules, would self-classify the content into five age-based categories – U (Universal), U/A 7+, U/A 13+, U/A 16+, and A (Adult). Platforms would be required to implement parental locks for content classified as U/A 13+ or higher, and reliable age verification mechanisms for content classified as “A”. The publisher of online curated content shall prominently display the classification rating specific to each content or program together with a content descriptor informing the user about the nature of the content, and advising on viewer description (if applicable) at the beginning of every program enabling the user to make an informed decision, before watching the program.

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