Online streaming platforms operating in the country might have to look into the web series that are available to watch. On Tuesday Mukesh Rajput, a Lok Sabha MP from Uttar Pradesh’s Farrukhabad constituency during the ongoing monsoon session raised the topic of obscene content that is being shown on various over-the- top (OTT) platforms in the country.
Addressing the newly elevated union minister of information and broadcasting Anurag Thakur, he said that web series have been showing obscene content that cannot be seen with the entire family. He said that since the time cinema halls have shut due to the pandemic, OTT platforms have been on a spree releasing web series that have made a bad influence on society.
The MP said that web series instead of showing good and nationalist shows are showing sensual content that is hurting India’s culture and cannot be watched with family. Taking a few names, he mentioned Netflix, Hulu, Alt Balaji, Amazon Prime are showing such sexually explicit content. He further added that school students are more concerned about the next episode of a series rather than their exams.
Online streaming platforms in the country have been facing flak from ministers and political leaders across the country for their lewd content. While some have been calling for a monitoring body to scrutinize web series before getting published, the way movies are monitored by CBFC, others believe that this is a way to muzzle artists’ freedom.
The Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code Rules 2021, which were brought in effect from May 25, 2021, seeks OTT platforms to self-classify its content into five-age -based categories such as U, U/A 7+, U/A 13+, U/A16+, and A (adult). As per the new rules, OTT 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”.
New rules also ask for the formation of a self-regulatory body which shall be headed by a retired judge of the Supreme Court, a high court or an independent eminent person. The body should not have more than six members. The self-regulatory body has to be registered with the ministry of information and broadcasting and will oversee whether OTT platforms are complying with the laws. Similar to social media intermediaries, OTT platforms are also asked to hire a grievance officer and take down any content when directed by the government under the provisions of the IT Act.