Global streaming major Netflix may consider joining a broader initiative to develop a content code that could help in self-regulation of the over-the-top (OTT) media industry in India, a source close to the company said.
Reacting to a news report that Netflix was likely to censor content distributed in the country — a report that Netflix denied in a terse one-line statement — the person, speaking to The Hindu on condition of anonymity, said: “There was a meeting at the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) event on October 30 that invited people from across the entertainment industry along with online portals where self-regulation of content was discussed.”
Discussions at the meeting touched on the possibility of setting up a self-regulatory subscription video-on-demand industry content code, similar to what is followed by ASEAN countries, according to the source. “I can’t confirm if Netflix will do something like this,” the person said, adding “but it stands to reason that they will look at it.”
A recent public interest litigation (PIL) filed at the Nagpur Bench of the Bombay High Court drew the court’s attention to ‘obscene and vulgar’ TV shows being streamed through online portals and sought prescription of some regulatory guidelines.
Delhi-based NGO Justice for Rights Foundation filed a petition in the Delhi High Court complaining of “unregulated, uncertified, sexually explicit, vulgar, profane, and legally restricted content” on online platforms in the country. On being asked by the Delhi High Court to intervene, the Central government admitted that there was no policy on regulating online content.
Last year, Amazon Prime Video removed a portion of the fourth episode of The Grand Tour — where Jeremy Clarkson drives a car made of animal carcasses — respecting Indian sensibilities. The move was largely recognised at the time by media outlets as a preemptive cautionary measure.
According to the source , a willingness to consider self-regulation was misinterpreted as likelihood that the platform may censor content.
“In my understanding, it’s something similar to, for example, parental controls and other measures that will protect children from adult content, a feature that Netflix already offers,” the person said, without elaborating.