A day after media reports said that the Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) has drafted a self-regulation code for over-the-top content players, the industry body released a ‘Code of Best Practices for Online Curated Content Providers’ at the India Digital Summit.
Nine OTT players are party to the code of self-regulation with more expected to come on board, said Thomas George, senior vice president of legal at Viacom 18, which is a signatory to the code. Others include Hotstar, Netflix, Zee5, Arre, SonyLIV, ALT Balaji, Jio Digital Life and Sony Liv.
As part of a panel discussion, representatives from Hotstar, Netflix, Viacom 18 and Zee5 said that the current code of self-regulation protects these companies against direct regulation by the government. The OTT content industry is expected to grow to a $5-billion opportunity by 2023, according to a report by consulting firm the Boston Consulting Group.
The code, which was drafted by the IAMAI for a year, lays down guidelines ensuring that the signatories do not air prohibited content such as that disrespecting the national emblem, which shows children in sexual acts, offending religious sentiments, promoting terrorism or content which has been banned for exhibition or distribution by a court of law.
The code also requires the OTT players to segregate content into clear buckets for age-appropriate viewing of sensitive content. This requires the platforms to display descriptors on the content. “These can be done using technology tools for parental control on the content visible to children or by segregating it as 18-plus and others," said Shuchi Jain, head of legal and business affairs at Zee Digital, as part of a panel discussion.
It also lays down the requirement for the OTT provider to set up an internal team or department for complaints redressal which will act as a single point of contact for all complaints from users. The department will have to acknowledge the complaint in three days, and if found in violation of specific provisions of law, the team has to update the complainant of the precautionary measure which will be taken within 30 days. If the department or team finds that an OTT player complies with the requirements of the code, the response time to the aggrieved party is 10 days.
The code also protects the OTT companies against anonymous or pseudo-anonymous complaints, and users are required to submit the complaint with relevant details.
The current code focuses on users and regulates only content displayed on the platforms.