Censorship could arrive soon on online streaming services

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Digital streaming services like Netflix, Hotstar and Amazon Prime may soon have to display messages and warnings during scenes showing use of tobacco products.

The health ministry has written to the telecom regulator to issue an advisory to online movie and TV programme streaming companies to comply with anti-tobacco rules and display messages and warnings during scenes showing tobacco products or their use. The letter came after the ministry observed violation of anti-tobacco rules by these companies.

“While the rules are well implemented in films screened in movie theatres, the films and TV programmes streamed using internet like Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hotstar, Voot and Hungama among others are ‘not fully compliant’ to these rules,” the letter from the ministry of health and family welfare to the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) stated. Mint has reviewed a copy of the letter.

Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hotstar may soon have to display anti-tobacco warnings
Netflix, Amazon explore voluntary censorship
Netflix, Amazon and Hotstar are exploring a voluntary censorship code in India to cover online content, according to three people familiar with the matter. Currently unregulated, online content is gaining in India as audiences move away from traditional television.

Top players in the video-on-demand (VOD) industry met in New Delhi on Tuesday to discuss the possibility and what such a code would entail. VOD companies worry about regulatory uncertainty, censorship flipflops and court rulings that could impact their long-term business potential in India. The meeting was coordinated by the Observer Research Foundation (ORF).

“A code could set out principles to ensure that content offered on these participating platforms are free from hate speech, hate crimes, child p**nography and other forms of inappropriate content. The code could also express support towards redressing complaints from consumers,” said a senior executive at one the top VOD players globally. He did not want to be named as the discussions are confidential.
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