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‘We don’t know if it is possible but we are issuing notice’: Supreme Court accepts petition seeking regulation of OTT content

In the petition, the petitioner has suggested the formation of a regulatory body that may be called the Central Board for Regulation and Monitoring of Online Video Contents (CBRMOVC) to monitor and filter the content available on various platforms in India.

The Supreme Court has agreed to accept a petition seeking regulation of content available on Over The Top (OTT) platforms such as Netflix, Hotstar, Amazon Prime and others. A bench comprising of Chief Justice of India SA Bobde and Justices AS Bopanna and V Ramasubramanian issued notices in the PIL filed by Shashank Shekhar Jha through Advocate Manju Jetley Sharma.

In the petition, the petitioner has suggested the formation of a regulatory body that may be called the Central Board for Regulation and Monitoring of Online Video Contents (CBRMOVC) to monitor and filter the content available on various platforms in India. The petitioner further suggested that the body can be headed by an IAS officer and may have stakeholders from various fields.

We don’t know if this is possible, says CJI

Chief Justice of India, while issuing the notice, observed that the court does not know if such a regulation is possible. However, the court has decided to issue a notice to the parties that can be involved in the case.

Regulation is the need on the hour, says the petition

In the PIL, the petitioner has suggested that the regulatory body formed specifically for the streaming platforms is the need of the hour. He further added that the cinema theatres might not open for normal functioning anytime soon. In such an unexpected situation, many filmmakers and creators are choosing OTT platforms to publish their content for consumption by the public.

Thus, the content available on these platforms must be properly regulated and monitored. Several OTT platforms publish content without any filtration or censorship, as there is no autonomous body to regulate it. “These unregulated portals are putting everything without any moderation and common people in India without are watching the same at their houses which could ultimately lead to various problems in coming future,” the petition further added.

Lack of guidelines

In October 2019, the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting had announced that they would publish a list of non-negotiable prohibited content. In January 2020, eight video streaming services Netflix, Hotstar, Voot, ZEE5, Arre, SonyLIV, ALT Balaji and Eros had signed a self-regulatory code to decide what content should be prohibited from the platforms. However, the MIB has issued any guidelines so far.

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