According to an order issued by the central government yesterday, online news platforms and over-the-top streaming services like Netflix, Hotstar, Amazon’s Prime Video, and others will now fall under the purview of the Union Ministry of Information and Broadcasting.
The order, which was signed by president Ram Nath Kovind on November 9, officially brings digital media under the I&B ministry. For this purpose, the order noted, the Government of India Allocation of Business Rules, 1961, was amended. The rules will now include "films and audio-visual programmes made available by online content providers", and "news and current affairs content on online platforms”.
Before this, specific laws to regulate online content providers and news platforms had been absent and the digital segment was not regulated by a ministry in particular. The I&B ministry had been looking at either pushing for self-regulation on digital content platforms, or formulating laws to bring online news under its ambit.
In September, for instance, during the Supreme Court hearings against Sudarshan News, the government had said that while guidelines already exist for the regulation of print and electronic media, it wants the court to issue guidelines for the digital media.
Regulatory bodies for print and broadcast news providers include the Press Council of India, which is a statutory, quasi-judicial authority, and the News Broadcasting Standards Authority, a self-regulatory body.
When it comes to OTT platforms, the government had intermittently indicated the need to regulate these platforms. The Hindu noted that last year, the government "wanted the platforms to come up with a self-regulatory body on the lines of the News Broadcasters Standard Authority".
By Diksha Munjal.
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