New guidelines: Here's what digital media & OTT platforms will have to follow

The Bridge Chronicle brings you the key features pertaining to the new rules for OTT platforms and digital media.
New guidelines: Here's what digital media & OTT platforms will have to follow
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In a press conference on Thursday, the government issued new guidelines concerning OTT, social as well as digital media. The decision was taken after the controversy following 'Tandav', starring Saif Ali Khan.

Also read: All you need to know about centre’s new rules to regulate social media

The proposed changes will introduce a strict oversight mechanism involving numerous ministries. It will additionally also look at empowering social media. The guidelines were announced by Cabinet Ministers Ravi Shankar Prasad and Prakash Javadekar.

Addressing the media, the Union Minister for Electronics and IT, Ravi Shankar Prasad, said that social media platforms are to be classified under two categories — social media intermediaries and significant social media intermediaries — with the latter being subject to more extensive obligations.

The new Information Technology (Guidelines for Intermediaries and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules 2021 prescribes how digital news organisations, social media and OTT platforms will be regulated by the government.

Read on to know about the key features pertaining to OTT platforms and digital media:

Self-classifying content: The OTT platforms, known as the publishers of online content in the rules will have to self-classify themselves into five age-based categories as per mandate. These include — U (Universal), U/A 7+, U/A 13+, U/A 16+, and A (Adult).

These platforms will also be required to include parental locks for content classified as U/A 13+ or higher, and reliable age verification mechanisms for content classified as “A”.

The publisher will also be required to display the classification of these ratings specific to each content, with a descriptor informing the users about the same. This descriptor will give the user an idea about the nature of the content, with a viewing advisory, if required. OTT platforms will also be required to display this at the beginning of every programme.

— Follow the norms of journalistic conduct: Publishers of news on digital media would be required to observe Norms of Journalistic Conduct of the Press Council of India and the Programme Code under the Cable Television Networks Regulation Act.

This will ensure a level playing field between the offline (Print, TV) and digital media.

A three-level grievance redressal mechanism has been established under the rules with different levels of self-regulation. This includes:

Level-I: Self-regulation by the publishers

Level-II: Self-regulation by the self-regulating bodies of the publishers

Level-III: Oversight mechanism.

Self-regulation by the Publisher: The publisher shall appoint a 'Grievance Redressal Officer' based in India who shall be responsible for the redressal of grievances received by it. The officer shall decide on every grievance received within 15 days.

Self-Regulatory Body: There may be one or more self-regulatory bodies of publishers. Such a body shall be headed by a retired judge of the Supreme Court, a High Court or independent eminent person and have not more than six members.

Such a body will have to register with the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting. This body will oversee the adherence by the publisher to the Code of Ethics and address grievances that have not to be been resolved by the publisher within 15 days.

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