Author: Akash


Since Evolution of OTT or (over-the-top) platforms, they are freely enjoying over their content in India as there were no regulation policies to govern them. After these many years government of India on February 2021 introduced a new set of rules for the OTT platform that will be govern by Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021 and also empower the Secretary of Information & Broadcasting for direct blocking of content in case of emergency1.

Many OTT platforms have their own story of large controversies, like Amazon prime's Tandav, Netflix's the suitable Boy, ALT Balaji's XXX and many more they are the examples of all this what led to the question on whether regulation and the Censorship on OTT's has become a necessity for the Nation now. The government of India also received lot of complaints from the Society and the parents who are requesting to overlook the matter. There are number of court proceedings going on same matter and the High Court and Supreme Courts also want government to take suitable measures.


OTT or over the top platform are the streaming services that provides viewers to access over the Web-Series, movies, T.V shows and other media with the help of Internet directly2. These services can be used directly through internet- connected devices like computer, smart phones, smart TVs and many more. Some of the largest OTT providers are Netflix, Hotstar +, Amazon Prime, etc.

Since the mid-2000s, these platforms have gained a lot of popularity. With theatres being shut down due to Covid-19 led lockdown. It shows 30% increase in these online streaming platforms from 22.2 million to 29.0 million peoples between March 2020 and July 2020.3.And currently India has one of the cheapest Internet plans across the world. The availability of low-priced connections is the said reason for growth and booming of these digital platforms.

The companies are using all types of contents and those were largely unregulated as in the name of Right of expression. But on Feb 2021 the India government finally took a action against them as said, the IT act of India is going to govern and see over all the content, legalities and all those things should be according to the Act and they have to set a three-tier grievance system, content classification and the parental lock.

These might be going to increase the content related disputes in India. There shall be a three-tier structure as follows for addressing grievances made against publishers in India under this part.

  • Publishers will regulate themselves at Level I
  • Secondly, there will be the self-regulatory bodies of the publishers;
  • Government himself will provide oversight mechanism at Level III.

A digital website or the content publisher themselves have to appoint grievance Redressal officer in India and each complaint will have to be addressed within 15 days4, after that When the complaint is not addressed satisfactorily, it will be dealt with by the self-regulatory body established by the OTTs and headed by a retired Supreme Court or High Court judge or eminent person. This self-regulatory body also has "censuring" powers in case of any incriminating content and in the top the third tier the most importantly, the Information and broadcasting ministry they will establish them inter departmental committee for hearing of the grievances and appeals for decision taken at level two or complain is referred to inter- department committee by the Ministry. A member of the Ministry not below the rank of a Joint Secretary shall be appointed as the "Authorized Officer" for the purposes of issuing directions under rules 15 or 16 (which talk about the permanent removal and blocking of content by the order of secretary of I&B).

Moreover, the code introduced rules to be set out the guidelines for the content classification based on the multi-racial and multi-religious context, age of viewer's, themes, target audience, and tone and impact; and it also requires OTT platform to give due consideration to India's Sovereignty, security and friendly relations of India, content which is likely to encourage violence or misbalance the maintenance of public order should not even get published.5

The owners of the OTT platform must have to classify their content according to the different age groups: "U" or Universal rating, and for others 7+, 13+, and then 18+ ages group and should also implement parental controls over the media. The content should be classified on the basis of – Theme, violence, Sex, Nudity, Language, Drug and substance abuse and Horror.6

In fact, these classifications have existed since the Cinematographic Act of 1952. While the intent of code of ethics appears to be curtail problematic content, make more inform choices and the rules act as a speed breaker in these fast-paced OTT industries. Freedom of expression can't be suppressed on account of threat of the demonstration and processions of threats of the Violence.


By establishing the new guidelines, the government expects publishers to make sure their content complies with public policy and ethical standards. Even companies that do not even have an office in India, such as prime, Netflix and many more will now have to reassess their working strategies in India. In few past years many OTT companies just growth up and started showing their contents as they want and spoon feeding to the audience as the content they want and that's how it become a very profitable field for the growing companies to.

As India is having biggest population of youth these platforms are showing what type of content, they want whether it should contain Violence, promoting fake narratives and content with nudity that the youth will get attracted to content. Therefore, it became necessary for government to take some major steps and start regulating the growing sector in India. As a result of these new regulations, content providers will have to ensure that their content is up to the norms and what is good or bad for the public. Other than Just admonishment & reprimand the government of India should also make strict rules like High penalty for not following any of the guide lines.


1 Government sets out regulation on OTT platform, Live mint

2 What is OTT platform? Which regulations govern it?, Business Standards,


4 ibid

5 New Rules for OTT Platforms: Regulation or restriction; Financial express;

6 The notification of MINISTRY OF ELECTRONICS AND INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY on 25th February 2021.

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