The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting’s bill on November 10, intended to broaden the broadcasting business environment, could shackle the burgeoning digital economy.
The Bill, which could replace the Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Act, 1995, could bring all regulations in broadcasting in one basket. It includes OTT services in broadcasting legislation.
The recommended legislation, highlighted The Print, could apply to old TV regulations. To cite an example, it empowers the Information and Broadcasting Ministry to suggest a programme code for OTT services, akin to television.
The code’s wide scope, The Print article says, could be an issue, for it could filter content that it perceives is not in good taste.
This ambiguous standard is against the spirit of free expression under Article 19(2) of the Indian Constitution.
The TV-style code might result in trite stories and familiar soap operas, stripping content of freshness.
The body should consist of members who stand for women, child welfare advocates, Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, and minorities.
The Print report adds that no country has such obligations. The OTT platform, it reminds us, is for a niche audience.
A Content Evaluation Committee (CEC) might have diverse opinions on OTT content, given its range.