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Is government a competent enough authority to handle OTT platforms?

Is this a welcome move? Did the anti-Hindu content of these OTT platforms trigger this decision of the government? What about undue censorship?

In September 2019, the union government decided to hold meetings with leading OTT players in India to discuss censorship and regulation of online streaming content. It was assumed Leila, a Netflix show, might be the trigger behind this decision.

The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting soon started meetings with representatives from Hotstar, SonyLIV, Voot, ALTBalaji, ZEE5, Eros Now, Arre, Netflix and Reliance Jio. Lawyers, officials from NGOs, Facebook, Google and other digital media companies were present in the meetings.

Censorship of online content and the ways for India to do so were discussed in the meetings.

Streaming platforms such as Amazon Prime and Netflix did not so far need certifications from the Central Board of Film Certification like movies to be released in cinema halls do.

But the scenario was soon to change as Information and Broadcasting Minister Prakash Javadekar confirmed thereafter that meetings on online certification of digital content had started.

The process reached its culmination today by the taking over of the domain by the I&B ministry from the Ministry of Information Technology.

Participants in this debate were SabLokTantra’s founder and video presenter Rachit Kaushik, current affairs commentators Gautam Mukherjee and Sugato Hazra and public relations executive and former journalist Piyush Kumar Srivastava. Sirf News’ Editor-in-Chief Surajit Dasgupta anchored the show.

A debate on a related issue

There had been news until September last year that Netflix show Leila might have triggered this proposal of online content censorship. Sources in the RSS said the swayamsevaks were upset over the way the rituals and customs of Hinduism had been portrayed in Leila. The show, according to many, was propagandising anti-Hindu sentiments, portraying Hindu customs in a negative way unnecessarily.

As many as nine PILs were heard in various courts in India, including in the Supreme Court, in 2019. Thereafter, there have been several instances of anti-Hindu and even anti-India propaganda on OTT platforms by way of web series like Mirzapur, Ashram, The Family Man, The Bard of Blood, etc. The panellists cited many examples in the debate above.

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