India is planning tough regulations on Netflix, Hotstar, Amazon Prime Video, Disney+ and the other OTT players operating in the country.
Currently the OTT broadcasters can operate free of restrictions, but the new regulations will see the streamers fall under the supervision of the country’s Ministry of Information & Broadcasting.
Eight existing OTT operators had already agreed to comply with self-regulation which bars any content that deliberately and maliciously disrespects the national emblem or national flag, any visual or story line that promotes child pornography, any content that “maliciously” intends to outrage religious sentiments, content that “deliberately and maliciously” promotes or encourages terrorism and, lastly, any content that has been banned for exhibition or distribution by law or court, as reported by The Hindu newspaper.
At present, the Press Council of India regulates the print media, the News Broadcasters Association (NBA) represents the news channels, the Advertising Standards Council of India regulates advertising, while the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) monitors films.
Vikram Malhotra, the CEO of Abundanita Entertainment, who has produced content for Amazon Prime Video and was formerly COO of Viacom’s India arm (Viacom 18 Motion Pictures) says that OTT has grown and gained traction in India because of the availability of affordable smartphones and cheap mobile data, making the nation a battleground for Amazon, Netflix and Disney as they seek to expand outside their home markets.
“That growth in streaming services, along with internet advertising, sports and music, is expected to help India’s media and entertainment industry increase 10.1 per cent annually on average to reach $55 billion (€46.8bn) by 2024, PwC predicts,” said Malhotra.