Parliamentary panel may call OTT companies amid demand for more control on content

Economic times, April 18, 2023

A parliamentary panel is likely to call OTT players such as Netflix, Amazon Prime and Sony Liv after several of its members on Monday sought more control on the content on these platforms.

Top officials of the information and broadcasting ministry, including secretary Apurva Chandra, on Monday discussed the emergence of OTT platforms and related issues with the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Communications and Information Technology.

The panel was informed that from January last year to March this year, Sony Liv had received 4,063 grievances over content, while Amazon Prime had received 3,203 and Netflix got 401. Disney+ Hotstar did not get any complaints in this period, people in the know said.

During the meeting, MPs from the BJP and the ruling alliance sought more control over OTT platforms, citing “vulgarity” shown on these platforms. According to them, this impacts the “Bhartiya Sanskriti”.

Ruling MPs said they are not in favour of censorship like it is in the case of movies, but that there is a strong case for more control on the platforms.

Opposition MPs in the meeting said the OTT platforms are open platforms and there should be some reasoned view for more control.

Responding to members’ queries, officials from the ministry said they have provisions for keeping a tab on OTT content under the information technology rules, the people said.

There are three levels for addressing the grievances of OTT subscribers, officials informed the MPs. While the first one is at the publisher level, the next is at the level of the self-regulatory mechanism of OTT bodies and the third is by the central government.

The 31-member panel has members from different parties and is chaired by Shiv Sena’s Prataprao Jadhav. Several film personalities including Shatrughan Sinha are among its members.

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