Netflix, Viacom18 and other streaming giants fear that the new legislation could prove burdensome and are seeking either a delay or a more favourable revision of the bill
Last month, the Centre introduced a new draft law aimed at regulating both the broadcasting sector and streaming giants
The government contends that the new law and the establishment of content committees are aimed at fostering "robust self-regulation"
Mukesh Ambani’s Viacom18, which operates JioCinema, Netflix, and other streaming giants are reportedly planning to collectively request the Indian government to delay or revamp the proposed broadcasting bill.
In a private meeting this week, executives of leading OTT platforms strategised on approaching the government to request a delay and potential overhaul of the bill, Reuters reported citing sources.
Last month, India introduced a new draft law aimed at regulating both the broadcasting sector and streaming giants. The proposed law suggests establishing individual content evaluation committees comprising members from diverse social groups. These committees would be responsible for reviewing and approving shows before their release.
Unlike films in Indian cinemas, streamed content currently escapes government-appointed board review and certification. The streaming industry fears that the proposed legislation could prove burdensome and is seeking either a delay or a more favourable revision of the bill.
The bill is open for public consultation until December 10.
Netflix and other streaming companies are concerned that the proposed content committees may result in too many pre-screening checks, posing implementation challenges due to the large volume of online content that would need prior review, a person close to the matter told Reuters.
Another source told the news agency that the streaming executives, during this week’s meeting, flagged that the law could impact the industry’s growth.
The government contends that the new law and the establishment of content committees are aimed at fostering “robust self-regulation”.
The bill allows the government to determine the committee’s size and quorum, ensuring that only “duly certified” shows can be broadcast. However, there are concerns about potential extensive government oversight on streaming platforms, according to a second source.
Between January 2022 and March 2023, out of a total online video consumption of 6.1 Tn minutes, the premium category’s share increased from 10% in 2021 to 12% in India, as indicated by a report from Media Partners Asia (MPA). India’s premium video consumption now aligns with that of Indonesia, Thailand, and the Philippines, where the share stands at approximately 10%.
The report revealed that YouTube dominated the online video category, capturing 88% of the total watch time. In the premium video segment, Disney+ Hotstar led with a 38% market share, driven by sports and a robust library of Hindi and regional content. Following were MX Player (23%) and Jio TV (8%). Prime Video and Netflix collectively held a 10% share in the premium category. Prime Video showed a preference for local content, constituting over 60% of its consumption, while Netflix had a lower share of 24%.
In November, MIB released the 2023 Broadcasting Services (Regulation) Bill for consultation, aiming to replace the 1995 Cable Television Networks Act and consolidate laws under a unified framework. The bill intends to bring streaming platforms like Netflix and Hotstar under the MIB’s direct regulation, eliminating reliance on the Information Technology Rules, 2021.
This move was anticipated to be a game-changer for OTT platforms in India, as the bill sought to bring all such platforms under its regulatory framework. Additionally, the proposed bill extends regulations to online news broadcasters and treats certain social media accounts as OTT broadcasters.