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India currently has a Film and TV certification bodies that moderate public content. India currently has no law that requires online streaming platforms to go under the censor as well. So, Netflix and Hotstar have now decided to adopt self-regulation guidelines for content streamed on their platforms in India in an effort to prevent potential government censorship.

Last year Netflix was drawn into legal battle after a complaint that its first Indian original series “Sacred Games” insulted former prime minister and Congress leader Rajiv Gandhi. This further raised concern that government could maybe look at regulating content on the online streaming platforms as well. Besides this, Netflix, Amazon and Hotstar are also facing a legal issue with a local NGO after the NGO filed a case against them for showing nudity/explicit sexual content on their respective platforms and also demanded that online content also be regulated from now on. The case’s hearing will now be in February.

A draft of an unofficial code that was adopted by Netflix, Hotstar, Voot, ZEE5, Arre, SonyLIV, ALTBalaji and Eros Now, said that the platforms would prohibit content that shows a child “engaged in real or simulated sexual activities”, is disrespectful of India’s national flag or encourages “terrorism”. While Amazon has refused to sign the code, it did help in drafting it. They do not want to act in the absence of  government mandated regulation.

The code probably includes all the usual regulations that the content creators usually try and prevent morally. Though putting it on paper, in a way makes it official but then again self regulation will also hamper the creative process and the creative freedom.

Online streaming is this one thing that people, especially in India, love doing mainly because of the freedom with which a particular show/film is made. Without any cuts or anything and just how the creator wanted it be shown. But now even on the online platform, you can’t create anything really without offending some or the other person(s) or group(s). If you change certain things because someone has taken offence of something. Tomorrow probably that same person or someone totally new will take offence over something else. There are 1.3 billion people in India. It is impossible to keep everyone happy at the same time. One’s love is another’s hate.

Not too long ago in this very coloumn I spoke about how regulating online content would be taking one step forwards and two steps back. Not only that but I also mentioned that it’s with this small problems that we don’t come together against, lead to bigger problems.

By – Amul Vikas Mohan

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