The government of India has set a new “classification rating” to describe the content and advise discretion for viewers of films and other entertainment sources including TV shows that are streamed on Over-the-top (OTT) platforms such as Netflix, Amazon Prime, Disney+ Hotstar, and more.
According to the new Information Technology (Guidelines for Intermediaries and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021, the Adult category will be suitable only for 18-year-old’s and above. This comes during a time when OTT platforms like Netflix and Amazon Prime have faced criticisms and complaints in India for allegedly showing “obscene content.”
The new rules, according to the government, establish a soft touch progressive institutional mechanism with a level playing field that features a Code of Ethics and a three-tier grievance redressal framework for news publishers and OTT platforms on digital media.
The OTT platforms are supposed to self-classify the content into five categories – U (universal), U/A 7+, U/A 13+, U/A 16+, and A (adult). Platforms would also be required to implement parental locks for content classified as U/A 13+ or higher, and reliable age verification mechanisms for content classified as ‘A’.
Publishers of news on digital media would be required to implement Norms of Journalistic Conduct of the Press Council of India and the Programme Code under the Cable Television Networks Regulation Act, thereby providing a level playing field between the offline (Print/ TV) and digital media.