In a significant development, the Centre on Wednesday (November 11) issued an order bringing online news portals and content providers such as Netflix under the Information and Broadcasting Ministry. The notification was signed by President Ram Nath Kovind on Monday. It is to be noted that currently there is no law or autonomous body governing digital content.
The guidelines framed by Press Council of India governns the print media, the News Broadcasters Association (NBA) monitors news channels, the Advertising Standards Council of India is for advertising while the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) makes guidelines for films.
On September 16, the Centre had suggested the Supreme Court (SC) to look into regulating digital media before electronic media if it wants to lay down guidelines for media in the country. The Centre told the top court that digital media has more reach and impact that TV media.
"Digital media has faster reach, potential to become viral due to apps like WhatsApp and Facebook," the Centre said in its affidavit to the SC.
The government had also also said there is "sufficient framework and judgments" on electronic media and print media. "The issue of balancing freedom of speech and responsible journalism has already been governed by statutory provisions and judgments," it says, adding that TV media is regulated by earlier cases and precedents.
The centre took the decision after the SC sought its response on a PIL seeking regulation on OTT platforms by an autonomous body.
The notices were issued by Chief Justice S A Bobde and Justices A S Bopanna and V Ramasubramanian to the central government, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting and Internet and Mobile Association of India.
“With cinemas theatres unlikely to open anytime soon in the country, OTT/Streaming and different digital media platforms have surely given a way out for filmmakers and artists to release their content without being worried about getting clearance certificates for their films and series from the censor board,” the plea stated.