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Bachon Ke Liye

RSS affiliates seek regulation of content on streaming services

October 06, 2019 04:58 AM

RSS affiliates seek regulation of content on streaming services
Smriti Kak Ramachandran

NEW DELHI : Affiliates of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) have demanded regulation of content offered on over-the-top (OTT) platforms or internet-based streaming services, pointing out that sexually explicit and “unsuitable” content was easily available for viewers under 18 years of age.

Organisations such as Sanskar Bharati and the Bharatiya Chitra Sadhana, which work in the areas of culture and arts, have urged the central government led by RSS’s political protégé, the Bharatiya Janata Party, to set in motion a process that can pave the way for content regulation without impinging on the freedom of content creators.

Content streamed online through platforms such as Netflix, Hotstar, ZEE5, ALTBalaji, among others, is not vetted by the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) or put through any other regulatory checks. While the government has not yet begun the process of regulating OTT platforms, RSS functionaries said content creators have a larger role to play in ensuring self-regulation.

“There are self regulatory bodies such as the National Broadcasters Association for the electronic media; there is the censor board for films; print media come under the ambit of the Press Council of India; why should there be no such regulatory mechanism for OTT platforms,” asked Rajiv Tuli, a state executive member of the RSS.

Although programmes on the platforms come with disclaimers about nudity and abusive content; the RSS is not satisfied that they are sufficient.

“Artistes and film makers lead society; therefore they have a bigger role to play in ensuring that they are not polluting the society. While the government should find a way out; it is the moral and social responsibility of the content creators to be responsible for [their] works,” said Amir Chand, assistant organising secretary of Sanskar Bharti.

In the recent past, RSS affiliates have not only expressed concern about sexually explicit content, but have also criticized certain productions for their alleged “anti-Hindu” stance. There were complaints against productions such as Deepa Mehta’s Leila, Patriot Act, The Final Call,and most recently, The Family Man.

“Freedom of expression comes with a certain responsibility. You cannot use the ruse of market or modernity to show content that is not fit for family viewership. Also, there is a need to assess the revenue model and the sponsorship that goes into creating content that is used to set a certain narrative,” said Atul Gangwar, general secretary of Bharatiya Chitra Sadhana.

An official in the ministry of information and broadcasting said, requesting anonymity, that the issue of regulating content has been discussed, but no steps have been taken by the ministry so far because digital content comes under the purview of the ministry of electronics and information technology.

However, on Thursday, news agency PTI quoted union minister for information and broadcasting Prakash Javadekar as saying that there should be some kind of regulation.

“I have sought suggestions on how to deal with this because there are regular feature films coming on OTT — good, bad and ugly. So how to deal with this, who should monitor, who should regulate? There is no certification body for OTT platforms and likewise news portals also,” Javadekar was quoted as saying.

In May, the Supreme Court had issued a notice to the Centre on an appeal to regulate content on streaming platforms such as Netflix, Hotstar, and Amazon Prime.

OTT platforms including Nextflix and Amazon Prime did not respond to queries

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