A viewer chooses from available OTT content | Representative Image | Mohhamed Hassan | Pixabay
A viewer chooses from available OTT content | Representative Image | Mohhamed Hassan | Pixabay
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New Delhi: Over 1,500 video streaming platforms and digital news websites have sent in their company and operational details to the Information and Broadcasting (I&B) ministry, after the ministry issued a public notice seeking such information, ThePrint has learnt.

According to sources in the government, of the companies that sent in their details, around 40 are video streaming platforms and the remaining are digital news websites, from across regions and languages.

The I&B ministry had issued a public notice on 26 May seeking information from digital news websites and video streaming platforms under Rule 18 of the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021. The information, sought under the new IT guidelines issued in February, had to be furnished within 15 days of the publication of the notice.

Three different pro formas were released with the notice — one to be filled by OTT platforms, and the others for digital only news websites and for print or television media organisations with a digital arm. Following the public notice, some platforms had requested for an extension of deadline to submit the information asked for, but the ministry had refused.

The seeking of information was the first step taken by the Centre towards the implementation of the new IT guidelines. Details sought had included basic information such as name of company, URL etc. and details of the self regulatory body of which the company is a member and about its grievance redressal officers.

A top source in the government had told ThePrint that any action, punitive or otherwise, against those who did not send in their details, was yet to be decided.

While action on such entities will likely be based on complaints received against such operators, or through a suo motu cognisance by the ministry, the government also has the necessary infrastructure to track down such organisations.

Industry sources told ThePrint that there are just about 40 video streaming platforms operating in India at present and thus there has been 100 per cent compliance from this industry.

“As far as the digital news websites are concerned, those who haven’t sent in their details, might have done so from ignorance or because they believed they could not be traced. But the ministry has the wherewithal to track them, through the IP addresses and URLs,” a source in a top digital media platform said.


Also read: New IT rules should use civil, not criminal penalties to make platforms more accountable


‘No clarity yet on charter of self-regulatory bodies’

Industry sources told ThePrint that while the government has allowed the formation of multiple self-regulatory bodies for television channels, as well as for video streaming platforms and digital news websites (under the new IT guidelines), there is yet to be clarity on when the charter of responsibilities for these bodies will be released by the government.

According to the digital media rules and the recently amended Cable TV Network rules, self-regulatory bodies form the second tier of the grievance redressal structure, in case of a complaint received against content published in any of these platforms, websites or channels.

“It will most likely be a common document for broadcasters and online media platforms. But it has to be seen if the government holds consultations on the charter for these bodies with already existing self-regulatory bodies (such as those existing under the Indian Broasting Foundation),” a second industry source associated with a broadcaster said.

So far, there has not been any such consultations, the source added.

One of the prominent industry bodies of broadcasters, the Indian Broadcasting Foundation (IBF), had announced last month that it will rename itself as the Indian Broadcasting and Digital Foundation (IBDF) to expand its purview to include OTT platforms.

It had also announced the formation of a self-regulatory body called the Digital Media Content Regulatory Council (DMCRC), to meet the requirements of the digital media rules, which will be similar to the Broadcast Content Complaint Council (BCCC), which has functioned under the IBF since 2011, for the linear broadcasting sector.

Sources said that since its formation last month, no complaints have been received by the DMCRC.

(Edited by Poulomi Banerjee)


Also read: What Twitter, Facebook & social media firms could stand to lose if they miss IT Rules deadline


 

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