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28th June 2023 (8 Topics)

OTT platforms and Content regulations


Recently, Digital Publisher Content Grievances Council (DPCGC) has recommended punitive action for OTT platform ‘ULLU’ over allegedly obscene content.

  • The council has ordered a take-down of the content within 15 days.

About the case:

  • The DGCGC has “gravely objected” to some of the content on the Hindi-language streaming service ULLU.
  • The order comes after a complaint was filed with the DPCGC against ULLU, which stated that some web series on the platform only had
  • The complainant said that such content flouted are against the provisions under IT (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021.

Digital Publisher Content Grievances Council (DPCGC):

  • It is an independent self-regulatory body for Online Curated Content (OCC) providers.
  • It was set up under the aegis of Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI).
  • DPCGC has been recognised and registered by the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting as Level II Self-Regulatory Body for publishers of OCC providers, under Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021.
  • The DPCGC has an Online Curated Content Publishers (OCCP) Council composed of publishers of OCC as members and an independent Grievance Redressal Board [GRB] consisting of a chairperson and six members.
  • Members of Board: The GRB will be chaired by a retired Supreme Court/High Court judge, and the members will comprise eminent persons from the media and entertainment industry and experts from various fields, including child rights, minority rights, and media law.
  • Functions of GRB:
    • It will oversee and ensure the alignment and adherence to the Code of Ethics by the OCCP Council members.
    • Provide guidance to entities on the Code of Ethics.
    • Address grievances that have not been resolved by the publisher within 15 days.
    • Hear grievances/appeals filed by complainants.
    • DPCGC, through the GRB aims to usher in a redressal mechanism which will ensure a balance between addressing viewer complaints and showcasing content in free-speech environment without ad-hoc interventions

What is Online Curated Content (OCC) Platforms?

  • OCC Platforms are companies that carry on the business which curates and presents a wide variety of content by means of online video-on-demand platforms.
  • Amazon Prime, Netflix, Hotstar, Zee5, etc., are examples of OCC Platforms operating in India.
  • These platforms operate on the basis of a “pull model”, whereby customers have the choice of viewing content as per their own convenience.

Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code Rules, 2021:

  • Recently, the government has notified Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules 2021.
  • These new rules broadly deal with social media and over-the-top (OTT) platforms.
  • These rules have been framed in exercise of powers under section 87 (2) of the Information Technology (IT) Act, 2000 and in supersession of the earlier Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines) Rules 2011.

Rules for News Publishers and OTT Platforms:

  • For OTT:

    • Self-Classification of Content:
      • The OTT platforms, called as 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).
    • Parental Lock:

      • 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”.
    • Display Rating:

      • Shall prominently display the classification rating specific to each content or programme 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 programme enabling the user to make an informed decision, prior to watching the programme.
    • For Publishers of News on Digital Media :
      • They would be required to observe Norms of Journalistic Conduct of the Press Council of India and the Programme Code under the Cable Television Networks Regulation Act 1995thereby providing a level playing field between the offline (Print, TV) and digital media.
  • Grievance Redressal Mechanism:
    • A three-level grievance redressal mechanism has been established under the rules with different levels of self-regulation.
      • Level-I:Self-regulation by the publishers;
      • Level-II:Self-regulation by the self-regulating bodies of the publishers;
      • Level-III:Oversight mechanism.
  • Self-regulation by the Publisher:
    • Publisher shall appoint a Grievance Redressal Officer based in India who shall be responsible for the redressal of grievances received by it.
    • The officer shall take decision on every grievance received by it within 15 days.
  • Self-Regulatory Body:
    • There may be one or more self-regulatory bodies of publishers.
    • Such a body shall be headed by a retired judge of the SC, a High Court or independent eminent person and have not more than six members.
    • Such a body will have to register with the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting.
    • This body will oversee the adherence by the publisher to the Code of Ethics and address grievancesthat have not been resolved by the publisher within 15 days.
  • Oversight Mechanism:
    • Ministry of Information and Broadcastingshall formulate an oversight mechanism.
    • It shall publish a charter for self-regulating bodies, including Codes of Practices. It shall establish an Inter-Departmental Committee for hearing grievances.

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