Prasad, Javadekar blame industry for failing to self regulate
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3 years ago 03:41:35pm Television

Prasad, Javadekar blame industry for failing to self regulate

New Delhi, 25, February, 2021, By IBW Team

Prasad, Javadekar blame industry for failing to self regulate

The Indian government blamed the social media and OTT platforms today in failing to come up with effective self regulatory mechanisms on disputable content despite nudges and consultations and this forced the government’s hand in coming out with a broad set of rules to guide the industry.

While Minister for Information and Broadcasting Prakash Javadekar said that his ministry had “not taken any additional powers”, Meity minister Ravi Shankar Prasad emphasized the ‘focus” was on “self regulation”.

Bot the ministers were addressing a media briefing in New Delhi to announce the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules 2021. Javadekar made it clear that wide consultations were held with the OTT players in several cities of India but “unfortunately they failed to come up with a suitable set of self regulatory mechanism”.

Prasad reiterated that despite nudges from the courts and the government SM platforms have refused to toe the line, highlighting that “double standards” cannot be allowed on content on SM platforms, especially when it relates to the integrity of the country. He was alluding to Twitter’s refusal to take down messages on ongoing farmers protest, while the same platform was quick to take action during the vandalism at Capitol Hill in the US.

Social media platforms have empowered ordinary users but they need accountability against its misuse and abuse, Prasad said.

AIndian govt. to issue OTT content guidelines soon prakashsked about the OTT guidelines, Javadekar said the soon-to-be-notified rules were progressive, liberal and contemporaneous, seeking to address peoples’ varied concerns, while removing any misapprehension about curbing creativity and freedom of speech and expression.

The effort is to “create a level playing field” amongst all media content — films, TV and OTT — so the code of ethics would be common to all, Javadekar said.

Though in an earlier report had highlighted some of the areas where government presence is clearly seen as a content regulator despite two tiers of self-regulation, the ministers stressed on self-regulation.

The guidelines have been framed keeping in mind the difference between viewership in a theatre and television as compared to watching it on Internet, both the ministers today insisted the guidelines were “soft touch” and empowered self-regulation by the industry.

The Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules 2021 has been framed in exercise of powers under section 87 (2) of the Information Technology Act, 2000 and in supersession of the earlier Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines) Rules 2011.

While finalizing these rules, both the Meity and MIB undertook “elaborate consultations”. While rules relating to intermediaries will be administered by Ministry of Electronics and IT or Meity, the Code of Ethics, procedures and safeguards in relation to digital media ( all these relate to content) shall be overseen by MIB.
Commenting on the announcements today after a quick read, Karan Taurani of Elara Capital said, “We don’t expect any negative impact on the eyeballs/consumption for digital media (on social media or OTT) as all other demographics like 1) cheaper and faster data 2) increased smartphone penetration and 3 ) large youth audience remains to be favourable for India.”
What were the justifications for the new guidelines? According to a government statement the following:

  • These Rules substantially empower the ordinary users of digital platforms to seek redressal for their grievances and command accountability in case of infringement of their rights. In this direction, the following developments are noteworthy
  • The Supreme Court in suo-moto writ petition (Prajjawala case) vide order dated 11/12/2018 had observed that the Government of India may frame necessary guidelines to eliminate child pornography, rape and gang rape imageries, videos and sites in content hosting platforms and other applications.
  • The Supreme Court vide order dated 24/09/2019 had directed the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology to apprise the timeline in respect of completing the process of notifying the new rules.
  • There was a Calling Attention Motion on the misuse of social media and spread of fake news in the Rajya Sabha and the (Meity) Minister had conveyed to the house on 26/07/2018, the resolve of the Government to strengthen the legal framework and make the social media platforms accountable under the law. He had conveyed this after repeated demands from the Members of the Parliament to take corrective measures.
  • The ad-hoc committee of the Rajya Sabha laid its report on 03/02/2020 after studying the alarming issue of pornography on social media and its effect on children and society as a whole and recommended for enabling identification of the first originator of such contents.
  • Widespread concerns about issues relating to digital contents both on digital media and OTT platforms. Civil society, film makers, political leaders, including a chief minister, trade organizations and associations have all voiced their concerns and highlighted the imperative need for an appropriate institutional mechanism.
  • The government also received many complaints from civil society and parents requesting interventions.
  • Court proceedings in the Supreme Court and high courts, where courts also urged the government to take suitable measures relating to content.

The new guidelines will be notified soon and the players concerned will be given three months time to get their houses in order in terms of compliance.
But, as they say in Hindi films, picture abhi baaki hai(the full movie is still to play out).

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