In a fresh move today, the Government of India has issued an order bringing online news portals and content providers such as Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and Hotstar under the Information and Broadcasting ministry with immediate effect.
A notification to this effect signed by President Ram Nath Kovind was issued today. According to the sources in the I&B, the government regulations will also be applicable to the news on social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, youtube and Instagram besides film news, audio-visuals, and news and current affairs content on online platforms.
Its been a long-pending demand for the recognition of online media in the newly formed Telangana state which has been spearheaded by the Telangana Online Media Working Journalists Association (TOMWJA. However, the state government upon consistent persuasion with the support of Telangana Media Academy, Accreditation Cards have been issued to those working in Online Media.
However, of late, the policy was changed and the recognition was withdrawn to the best known to the powers that be as a result of which unprofessional websites and politically motivated content began to sprout in abundance and play havoc spitting venom at their opponents both on online media and social media platforms especially in the absence of any law or regulating body to monitor the digital content.
The Press Council of India takes care of the print media, the News Broadcasters Association (NBA) monitors news channels, whereas the Advertising Standards Council of India is there for advertising while the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) takes care of films but for the online content there is none.
Thanks to the Supreme Court’s initiative that had sought the centre’s response on a petition for regulating over-the-top or OTT platforms by an autonomous body. The top court issued notices to the centre, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting and Internet and Mobile Association of India, OTT platforms include news portals and also streaming services such as Hotstar, Netflix and Amazon Prime Video, which are accessible over the internet or ride on an operator’s network.
Consequent to this, the I&B Ministry after conducting a series of meetings with industry experts and professionals in every state eliciting their opinion on the broad policy proposal to handle online media content. As part of the exercise, a meeting was conducted in hotel Trident in Gachibowli a year ago which was attended by the CEO of TSAT Shailesh Reddy representing the state government and Editor of www.maahyderabad.in Sridhar Dharmasanam.
It is further learnt that a detailed guideline is being prepared to be incorporated in the proposed Act which will be on the lines of Cable and Satellite Television Regulations Act, only to be presented in the Parliament. Since the parliament is not in vogue, the government might issue an ordinance in a day or two.
Thankfully, the Information and Broadcasting Minister Prakash Javadekar had said that the government will not take any step that may curb media freedom, adding there should be some kind of regulation on over-the-top platforms, as there is for the print and electronic media as well as films.