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Towards transparency in OTT regulation

GS Paper 2


Source: The Hindu


Context: Even after two years of issuing the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules there has not been much improvement in the regulation of OTT platforms.

  • India’s approach can be termed as a light-touch ‘co-regulation’ model where there is ‘self-regulation’ at the industry level and final ‘oversight mechanism’ at the Ministry level. 


Issues plaguing OTT regulation:

  • Lack of awareness: The Rules mandate the display of contact details relating to grievance redressal mechanisms and grievance officers on OTT websites/interface. However, compliance is very low. 
  • While the Rules require disclosure of grievance details by publishers and self-regulating bodies, the reporting formats only capture the number of complaints received and decided
  • Ambiguity around content regulation
  • Jurisdictional issues: Many OTT platforms are based outside India, which makes it difficult to enforce regulations and hold them accountable.
  • Freedom of expression concerns.



  • The OTT industry associations could be mandated to run periodic campaigns in print and electronic media about the grievance redressal mechanism
  • The interpretation of age rating (UA 13+, for example) and the content descriptors ( ‘violence’, for instance) could be in the respective languages of the video (apart from English).
  • An independent body may undertake a periodic audit.
  • The Ministry could consider facilitating a dedicated umbrella website wherein the details of applicable Rules, content codes, advisories, contact details for complaints/appeals, etc. are published.


Examples from other countries:


  • The Infocomm Media Development Authority is the common regulator for different media. Apart from instituting a statutory framework and promoting industry self-regulation, its approach to media regulation emphasizes on promoting media literacy through public education.


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