HT reached out to Netflix and Amazon but did not receive a response immediately,(AFP)
HT reached out to Netflix and Amazon but did not receive a response immediately,(AFP)

800 OTT, digital news platforms have shared info under new IT rules: Official

The new intermediary and digital media guidelines require platforms to appoint officers, grievance redressal officers in case of OTT and digital news media platforms.
By Deeksha Bhardwaj, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
UPDATED ON JUN 13, 2021 03:00 AM IST

Over 800 over the top platforms, which include video streaming services such as Netflix and Hotstar, and digital news media outfits, have shared details under the new intermediary and digital media ethics rules, according to an official from the ministry of information and broadcasting.

“Most of the top OTT players have done it, Netflix, Amazon, Jio,” said an official familiar with the matter. “More number of entries have been received from new media houses, this includes both big and small players.”

HT reached out to Netflix and Amazon but did not receive a response immediately,

The government has also issued a point-by-point clarification to concerns it received regarding the new rules to counter what it said were “misapprehensions” regarding compliance burden on publishers, excessive government control by way of emergency powers, the concerns with the new oversight mechanism by way of an inter-departmental committee and the suggestions relating to the self-regulating body and its registration by the government.

The new intermediary and digital media guidelines require platforms to appoint officers, grievance redressal officers in case of OTT and digital news media platforms, institute a three-tier mechanism for grievance redressal with an inter-ministerial committee at its apex and give the I&B ministry takedown powers over the content circulated online. The rules, which were notified in February, have been challenged in the court by several digital news media outfits, including LiveLaw and TheWire.

While there is no requirement for the digital news media publishers to be registered with the ministry, information pertaining to their grievance redressal officer in India, self-regulating body of which the publisher is a member and the details of the editor were sought by the ministry on May 26. Similar information has been sought from the video streaming services, with details of the content manager instead of the editor. The ministry had given the platforms two weeks to share the details.

The News Broadcasters Federation, which consists of 78 news channels in 14 languages, representing broadcasters from 25 States, wrote on Twitter on Friday that they have complied with the rules.

In a separate notification dated June 10, the ministry said that digital arms of traditional media houses would not be exempt from furnishing the details under the new rules.

“The rationale for including digital news portals/websites of traditional media houses under the ambit of the digital media rules 2021 is well reasoned,” the ministry has said in its communication. “Making any exception of the nature proposed will be discriminatory to digital news media publishers who do not have a traditional TV/print platform.” Hindustan Times on February 28 first reported that websites of traditional media houses would be brought under the guidelines, in effect making them subject to section 69(A) of the IT Act that gives the government takedown powers.

On May 27, the News Broadcasters Association wrote to I&B minister Prakash Javadekar to seek that traditional news media be exempt from the new guidelines as they are already covered under the Cable Television Act. “The IT Rules 2021, if applied to the digital media of the linear television medium, would only result in duplication of the adjudicatory and redressal mechanism resulting in the creation of parallel adjudicatory bodies. The IT Rules, 2021 prescribe administrative regulations, which will make it virtually impossible for small or medium-sized traditional news media organizations to survive,” the letter said. “Any additional mandates as contemplated under the IT Rules, 2021 would result in increasing the employee costs and compliance requirements of the traditional news media organizations along with duplication and creation of parallel processes.”

With respect to the issue of the compliance burden, the government has clarified that it will take appropriate action if a representation is received from any digital news publisher citing the exact number of complaints relating to the code of ethics and the redressal of said grievances. With reference to self-regulation, the ministry has clarified it is only an “extension of existing institutional practices”. The government has also assured that the “apprehension of excessive government control is misplaced”.

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