Currently, the Indian government has no regulatory control over online content, as video streaming platforms don't fall under the 1952 Cinematograph Act, media reported on Wednesday.
The 1952 Act provides certification to traditional films for exhibition and regulates cinematic exhibitions.
However, in March, India’s Karnataka High Court ordered the ministry to quickly subject over-the-top (OTT) platforms for video content to the rules which are already applied to films.
In May, the Supreme Court of India also issued a notice, agreeing to the need for certifying and regulating content that features on OTT platforms in the country.
The emphasis on the need for content regulation on OTT platforms gained momentum after some religious and nationalist groups expressed concerns over the Netflix original show “Leila” and opinion-based comedy talk show “The Patriot Act”, hosted by comedian Hasan Minhaj.
While “Leila” was blamed for promoting an attitude of “suspicion and distrust” towards Hinduism, “The Patriot Act” came under scrutiny for its content on the Indian parliamentary election held between April-May 2019.
Last month, Information and Broadcasting Minister Prakash Javadekar had announced his ministry, along with the Ministry for Electronics and Information Technology (Meity) would meet with stakeholders — representatives from OTT platforms, community NGO leaders, technicians, the media and legal experts— to discuss regulations and the certification of online content, the report said.
The meeting’s date couldn’t be immediately known.
Until now, nine OTT platforms including Netflix, ALTBalaji, Hotstar, Voot and Eros Now among others which have voluntarily adopted a self-regulatory “Code of Best Practices”.
However, actors believe that the censorship of OTT platforms would hinder creativity, a report said.
With the government looking forward to regulating online content, problems are not just limited to the OTT platforms, but would also extend to the viewers who pay to watch unfiltered quality content online.
Citing a 2019 report on media and the entertainment industry, the media report indicated that the number of paid video subscribers had grown from around 7 million in 2017 to 12-15 million in 2018, while video subscription revenues grew almost four-fold in 2018, to $13.4 billion.
Moving briskly towards becoming the world's second-largest market after China for OTT content streaming platforms, India's online video market will have more than 500 million online video subscribers by 2023, a recent report from professional services network KPMG India has said.
By 2022, monthly internet video traffic in India is projected to reach 13.5 exabytes (EB) with video content contributing about 77 percent of all internet traffic.