In a bid to resolve consumer-complaints, some of the domestic content streaming players like Eros, Hotstar and Jio have signed up to be part of a new independent body called the “Digital Content Complaint Council” (DCCC), The Economic Times reported on Wednesday.
The council, to be formed with representatives from the government and the entertainment industry, would be chaired by a retired judge whose name has not been disclosed yet.
While some content streamers have jumped on the new council wagon, some believe this decision was just another way of increasing censorship and promoting repressive approach to the content being provided to audiences.
According to media reports, OTT players including Netflix India, Zee5 and AltBalaji were against the formation of the DCCC – which would not only review complaints from citizens, but also from the government into consideration and trials.
Content disrespecting India and its national symbols along with scenes triggering violence, promoting terrorism or showing minors in compromising situations are subject to questions and censorship in the country. However, with respect to the DCCC, elements that could shake religious sentiments have not made it into the list of prohibitions.
These are some subjects that may lead to complaints against the streaming giants, which the the DCCC plans to resolve once it becomes operational.
In 2019, nine OTT platforms, including Netflix, ALTBalaji, Hotstar, Voot and Eros among others voluntarily adopted a self-regulatory “Code of Best Practices”.
In March, the High Court in the state of Karnataka in southern India ordered the federal Ministry of Information and Broadcasting to subject OTT platforms to the same censorship clauses that are applied to films in India.
Later 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.
In a bid to move forward towards implementing ideas suggested by the courts, in September 2019, India’s federal Information and Broadcasting Ministry decided to draft a certification model for online streaming platforms to comply with before they show sexual, violent or abusive content as part of their original stories.
However, time and again actors have highlighted how the language of screenplays for web series was made to be very relatable and very direct, restricting which could result in a drop in quality content.
“I don't think in a democracy there should be censorship to add suppression to freedom of expression. Certification works better. Earlier, songs represented the scenes you visually see now. The lyrics of the songs told you all about the degree of love and the relationship,” veteran Bollywood actor Dalip Tahil told Sputnik in 2019.
Netflix actor Dhruv Sehgal, known for his romantic new-age series “Little Things” also noted that except for content spreading hate, nothing else should be censored.