The bill aims at streamlining regulatory processes, extend its purview to cover OTT content and digital news, and introduce contemporary definitions and provisions for emerging technologies
The ministry said that the new bill addresses a long-standing need to consolidate and update the regulatory provisions for various broadcasting services under a single legislative framework
The new bill has been floated at a time when the Indian OTT market is expected to grow at a CAGR of 14.32% over the next five years and is set to double from $1.8 Bn in 2022 to $3.5 Bn by 2027
In an attempt to replace the existing Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Act, the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (MIB) has floated the much-anticipated draft Broadcasting Services (Regulation) Bill, 2023, for public consultation.
This move is expected to be a game changer for over-the-top (OTT) platforms in India as this bill seeks to take all such platforms under its purview. Notably, OTT platforms are currently regulated under the IT Act, 2000.
“The bill streamlines regulatory processes, extends its purview to cover the OTT content and digital news, and introduces contemporary definitions and provisions for emerging technologies,” the ministry said in a statement.
MIB added that it addresses a long-standing need to consolidate and update the regulatory provisions for various broadcasting services under a single legislative framework. This move streamlines the regulatory process, making it more efficient and contemporary, it added.
How Does The Broadcasting Bill Define OTT?
As per the draft Bill, “OTT broadcasting service” refers to a broadcasting service that provides on-demand or live content to subscribers in India through the internet or a computer resource. This includes a curated catalogue of programmes that are either owned, licensed, or contracted for transmission, excluding closed networks.
The definition also extends to cases where accessing content on non-smart televisions or viewing devices requires additional hardware or software, or a combination thereof, such as a set-top-box, dongle, or software keys.
OTT broadcasting shall not include social media intermediaries and their users, as defined by rules under the Information Technology Act, 2000, or any other entities notified by the government, the bill added.
Moreover, for OTT broadcasting services, compliance responsibility with all requirements under this bill lies with the operator providing the programme or content, not with the network operator or internet service provider.
Key Details On The Regulation
While the majority of broadcasting network operators must obtain a licence from the Centre, streaming platforms are only required to “intimate” the government if they surpass a specified subscriber or viewer threshold. To prevent “genuine hardship” for OTT broadcasters, the central government holds the authority to grant exemptions from the Act’s provisions through guidelines.
“Any person providing an OTT broadcasting service in India, with such number of Indian subscribers or viewers as may be prescribed, shall, within one month from the notification of this act or its meeting the prescribed threshold, provide an intimation to the central government of its operations,” the draft said.
Furthermore, the bill introduces a differentiated approach for programme and advertisement codes, tailored to different services. It mandates self-classification by broadcasters and enforces robust access control measures for restricted content.
In case of any violation of the programme or advertising code, OTT platforms will also be required to pay a penalty. The penalty for the initial violation is a fine of up to INR 20,000, while subsequent contraventions may incur a penalty of up to INR 1 Lakh.
The Indian OTT market is a bustling segment, including domestic players like Zee5, SonyLIV, and JioCinema alongside international majors such as Disney+ Hotstar, Amazon, and Netflix.
Revenue of the Indian video over-the-top (OTT) market is set to double from $1.8 Bn in 2022 to $3.5 Bn by 2027, according to PwC’s latest report. Further, the Indian OTT market is expected to grow at a CAGR of 14.32% over the next five years against the global OTT segment’s rate of 8.4%.