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Why did govt decide to bring OTT platforms, online news media under I&B

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New Delhi, Nov 11: The government today issued an order and expanded the powers of the Information and Broadcasting Ministry to start regulating OTT platforms and other digital content including online news.

The order issued by the government and signed by the President brings digital or online media, films and audio visual programmes, news and current affairs content under the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting.

Why did govt decide to bring OTT platforms, online news media under I&B

The move comes at a time when there is no law or autonomous body governing digital content. The order says that this would apply to films and audio visual programmes made available by online content providers and news and current affairs content on online platforms.

Online news portals brought under Information & Broadcasting Ministry

Last year, I&B minister, Prakash Javadekar had said that the government will not take any step that may curb media freedom. However he said that there should be some kind of regulation on the OTT platforms as there is for the print and electronic media.

This would mean that it would be mandatory for news websites to get themselves registered with the Registrar of Newspapers of India. The new law would be placed before the Union Cabinet soon.

Official sources tell OneIndia that this would also ensure a level playing field. The government felt the need to have a mechanism that would ensure digital content did not cross the accepted lines.

The government has been getting complaints about vulgar content on OTT platforms and there has been no mechanism to redress such grievances. The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology has jurisdiction over the digital media, but it is not equipped to monitor content and the powers are restricted only to technical aspects.

The government would make it necessary for platforms such as Amazon Prime Video, Netflix to register with the government and follow the ground rules for videos that are being streamed. This would ensure that the treatment for the foreign players would be on par with the domestic players such as MX Player, Sun NXT, Eros etc.

In addition to this the government has also finalised the draft of the Registration of Press and Periodicals Bill. The proposed law would make it mandatory for news websites and online channels to register with the government.

The Press Council hears complaints relating to the print media, while television channels come under the News Broadcasters Association.

It may be recalled that a petition was filed in the Supreme Court that sought directions to the Centre to set up a mechanism to monitor and manage content on video streamlining platforms. The government had however started this exercise sometime back and this is not directly linked to the Supreme Court case. In fact, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had ordered changes in the powers of the I&B ministry on May 30.

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