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Misplacing the warning

  • Published
    25th Aug, 2023


The newly introduced rules by the Union Health Ministry that require anti-tobacco warnings for smoking scenes on OTT platforms, intended to raise awareness about tobacco's ill effects, are being critiqued for their force-fitted nature and lack of industry consultation.

Distinction and Concerns

  • Application of Theatre/TV Rules: New rules mandate anti-tobacco warnings for OTT platforms similar to theatres and TV.
  • Lack of Contextualization: The rules overlook distinctions between OTT and traditional media, raising concerns about the viewing experience.
  • Industry Pushback: The absence of industry consultation has led to criticism and resistance against the rules due to their impractical implementation.

OTT's Unique Attributes

  • OTT Growth: The OTT market's exponential growth in India is attributed to personalized content delivery and on-demand viewing.
  • Self-Regulation Framework: Unlike theatres/TV, OTT operates under self-regulation through the Digital Media Ethics Code.
  • Viewing Experience Impact: Force-fitting warnings disrupt binge-watching and short-form content, and efficacy concerns are raised regarding repeated exposure.

Complex Challenges and Way Forward

  • Compliance Challenges: Imposing warnings across extensive OTT libraries within a short timeframe presents resource-intensive difficulties.
  • Light-Touch Approach: Evolving technology-driven models like OTT should be governed with innovation and growth in mind.
  • Consultation and Self-Regulation: The editorial suggests addressing tobacco depiction concerns through industry consultation and existing self-regulatory mechanisms.
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