Streaming players sign up to form complaint council

BENGALURU: Video on demand players Hotstar, Jio, SonyLIV, Network18 and Eros have signed up to form an independent adjudicatory council to resolve consumer complaints, a step some streaming platforms have termed as increased censorship, regressive and unnecessary.

The Digital Content Complaint Council (DCCC) will be led by a retired judge and have representation from government bodies and industry. The council will look into complaints that go unaddressed by the companies who had last year signed a self-regulatory code, which censored streaming of certain content.

The previous code said content banned by courts, that “disrespects” the national emblem and flag, “outrages” religious sentiments, “promotes” terrorism or violence against the State and shows children in sexual acts cannot be streamed on their platforms.

Under Tier 2 of the code, companies will also receive complaints from the government. However, it has removed content outraging religious sentiments from the list of prohibited content. Out of the nine original signatories of the self-regulatory code, only five members have signed on to the DCCC, also referred to as ‘Tier 2’ of last year’s Code.

“Arré hasn’t opted out but it hasn’t signed yet on Tier 2 as we need some more time for aligning with more players in the Online Curated Content platforms industry and not just a few. I don’t believe this is a priority and even from the government’s point of view,” said Ajay Chacko, CEO of the content platform.

According to sources, Netflix, AltBalaji, Arré, MX Player and Zee5 have written to the Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) – an industry lobby group that helped draft the code – against DCCC.

“The first code continues to be of value. When something is working, what is the necessity of this? Out of the 35-40 streaming platforms in India only five have signed up. BCCC is regressive and leads to censorship. It is responsible for the broadcast industry not reaching its economic potential,” said an executive from a streaming company that opted to stay out. The person did not want to be named. Some industry players believe that broadcasting companies who already follow BCCC rules and lack original content are trying to impose similar restrictions on internet platforms.

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