To Netflix and others whose OTT channels fall under the IB ministry

Under the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, the state has launched over-the-top (OTT) online distribution services such as Netflix, Amazon's Prime Video, Hotstar, and others. To date, the Ministry of Electronics and Communication Technology has been in charge of these networks. 

According to estimates, with market size of almost Rs 500 crore at the end of March 2019, online video streaming platforms may become a Rs 4000-crore revenue market by the end of 2025. India had as many as 17 crore OTT platform users as of the end of 2019.

There are no regulations or guidelines governing OTT channels so far in India since it is a comparatively new entertainment medium. OTT outlets, known as new media or social media, have little to no regulation on the choice of content they offered, the subscription fees, certification for adult movies and others, unlike tv, print or radio, which met standards issued by governments.

The governance of such websites has been extensively discussed and presented in India. A self-regulatory model was suggested by the Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI), a representative body of the OTT platforms, after pressure to control the content made available on these streaming platforms.

A Digital Curated Content Complaints Council along with the self-regulatory framework as part of the suggested two-tier system were also proposed by the Digitally Curated Content Providers or OCCPs. However, the idea was shot down by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, which will now supervise these channels.

With the government agreeing to make available internet service providers' films and audio-visual programmes as well as "news and current affairs content on online channels," the first challenge facing the OTT platforms will be to review their content.

The decision of the central government to put the OTT platforms under the Ministry of I&B could also suggest that these platforms will have to apply for the content they choose to stream to be accredited and accepted. This in itself could lead to several disputes as most OTT platforms have content that could otherwise be censored by India's certification boards.

As these outlets have also opted to produce films and documentaries on politically sensitive but important issues, OTT platforms are likely to reject any plans to censor the material being produced and streamed by them. It would also have to be seen what rules if any are placed in force by the I&B ministry to control these OTT channels.

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