IBDF tells its OTT members to avoid vulgar, abusive content without justification

The Indian Broadcasting and Digital Foundation’s (IBDF) Digital Media Content Regulatory Council (DMCRC) has advised its member over-the-top (OTT) platforms to avoid unnecessary vulgar and abusive content without justification.

The DMCRC is part of the Indian Digital Media Industry Foundation (IDMIF), which has been formed by IBDF, and has 10 members, namely JioCinema, SonyLIV, Disney+ Hotstar, and ZEE5, among others.

The advisory was sent out after the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (MIB) raised concerns over the excessive use of profanity, vulgarity, and obscenity in content produced by certain OTT platforms.

“The content shown by the platforms has a deep impact on society. The platforms have the freedom to tell stories the way they wish to, but it should be done after due diligence and with responsibility. This is the essence of content self-regulation,” the DMCRC said in a statement.

It has also asked the OTT platforms to strengthen the self-regulatory framework and overall functioning of OTT platforms. Further, the OTT platforms have asked to conduct frequent meetings with content creators and production houses to sensitize them about vulgarity and obscenity in content.

The OTT platforms have also been asked by the DMCRC to ensure that the content is in due compliance with the self-regulation framework, including the Code of Ethics.They have also been asked to ensure an accessible system to lodge content-related grievances and build access controls to empower the consumer to make content choices with complete awareness and knowledge.While asking the OTT platforms to take steps to strengthen the self-regulatory mechanism, the DMCRC also noted that its member platforms have been abiding by the self-regulatory framework.

“Since it is a continuous process, the platforms need to consistently adhere to the same and stay within the sacrosanct boundaries of our constitutional framework,” it added.

The council is of the firm view that it is desirable that OTT platforms continue to keep the sensibilities of our diverse society and culture in mind while producing content.

ET reported in August that IDMIF and the Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) have told MIB that their Online Curated Content Platforms (OCCPs) are ensuring compliance with IT Rules 2021 even before the content is published on their platforms.

The IDMIF and IAMAI have stated in separate but identical letters to the MIB that OCCPs have agreed to go through a thorough process to ensure that the content they produce is in accordance with the principles of the Code of Ethics of the IT Rules 2021, which describes OTT platforms as OCCPs.

Furthermore, the two bodies have said that the OCCPs are taking precautions to make sure that none of the content they create has an adverse effect on India’s sovereignty, integrity, or security, is harmful to India’s good ties with other nations, incites violence, or interferes with the maintenance of public order.

The two organisations have said that, given the diversity of India, every OCCP is exercising due caution and discretion when highlighting the actions, convictions, customs, or opinions of any racial or religious group.

The letter followed meetings that the MIB held with select OCCPs on July 18 and June 20 regarding concerns about the presence of vulgarity, abusive language, and violence in over-the-top (OTT) content.

During the meeting with OTT platforms on July 18, I&B minister Anurag Thakur expressed concerns about vulgarity and obscenity in OTT content.


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