Misplacing the warning
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.