Now streaming services, online news and content in India to be regulated

India content regulated
Commuters watch videos on their mobile phones as they travel in a suburban train in Mumbai, India. REUTERS/Shailesh Andrade/File Photo

NEW DELHI (Reuters) – The Indian government has reported that the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting will regulate content on video streaming platforms including global services such as Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and Walt Disney’s Hotstar as part of new rules announced earlier this week.

Until now, content on video streaming platforms was not regulated by the ministry which normally evaluates programs telecast and performed at theatres nationwide. It is now ready to regulate the policies for streaming platforms and digital news outlets in a move that is widely believed to kickstart an era of highly strict and more frequent censorship on what is being aired.

News and current affairs content on online media such as Facebook and Twitter will also come under the new regulatory regime, the government circular said. Online news was not previously regulated.

The change was announced in a brief government circular on Tuesday, which did not provide further details.

Earlier this year, more than a dozen local and global streaming services, including Amazon Prime Video, Netflix and Hotstar, had signed a code for self-regulation.

Techcrunch reports that the new rules, signed by India’s President Ram Nath Kovind this week, might end the years-long efforts by digital firms to self-regulate their own content to avoid the broader oversight that impacts television channels and theatres and whose programs appeared on those platforms. (Streaming platforms may be permitted to continue to self-regulate and report to the ministry, similar to how TV channels follow a programming code and their self-regulatory body works. But there is no clarity on this currently.)

Netflix declined to comment. Amazon, Hotstar, Twitter and Facebook did not immediately respond for a request for comment.

(Reporting by Sankalp Phartiyal. Editing by Jane Merriman)

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