Effect of OTT platforms on society
The debate over OTT (over-the-top) platforms is gradually becoming a point of discussion in India as these platforms (Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Hotstar, etc.) create contents, according to their own commercial interest, which carries extreme violent and abusive content. The problem here is not OTT platforms, but their contents. Here, it is worth mentioning that in the present world, mobile phones and smart TVs are replacing cinema halls due to cheap internet data and instant availability of contents. There is a possibility that within a decade, online platforms would fully replace cinema halls. Therefore, it is legitimate to bring some guidelines for these platforms. And government has also brought rules regarding this. According to the new rules, “The OTT platforms would self-classify the content into five age based categories- U (Universal), U/A 7+, U/A 13+, U/A 16+, and A (Adult). Platforms would be required to implement parental locks for content classified as U/A 13+ or higher, and reliable age verification mechanisms for content classified as “A”. The publisher of online curated content shall prominently display the classification rating specific to each content or programme together with a content descriptor informing the user about the nature of the content, and advising on viewer description (if applicable) at the beginning of every programme enabling the user to make an informed decision, prior to watching the programme.”
The fact of the matter is that most of the OTT platforms could be seen creating content to manipulate people’s thoughts. India has world’s largest population of youths and this is the reason why all the OTT platforms create such content, which could drag attention of youths so that they subscribe the platform, violent and political contents are created. Sometimes, sensitive social issues are also added to give caste and religious colour. The fact is that all these things are deliberately done to create controversies as controversy is the first step towards making a content famous. Here, it does not mean that the content should not be created on social issues. It should be created, as cinema is the mirror of society and it has the power to change a society culturally and also economically as it also changes the lifestyle of people. But, mixing controversial issues and vulgarities for the commercial purpose is like playing with fire, and therefore, if the government brings any rule regarding this, it should be welcomed as print and electronic media, the fourth pillar of democracy, too follow some guidelines.
Dr. Anup Girdhar, Cyber Crime Investigator and CEO, Sedulity Solutions & Technologies, talked exclusively on this issue. Dr Girdhar said, “OTT (over-the-top) means providing television and film content over the internet at the request and to suit the requirements of the individual consumer. After COVID-19 people are purely dependent on the Internet for their entertainment. There is a fear factor to watch a movie in cinema hall due to which cinema halls are bearing huge losses. Cable TV operators are already in pipeline to shut their services. It is very convenient to access Internet-based material using the OTT platforms on personal gadgets. There are currently about 40 providers of OTT media services in India, which gained significant momentum in India these days. To bring in more subscribers, lots of ads-free series, TV serials, short films, movies, etc., are being produced to grab the entertainment market. Owing to the inappropriate regulations and guidelines, the content makers started placing lots of abusive, adult, sexual, and religious content. However, it hurts the sentiments of the public and the liability goes to all the stakeholders of this industry.”
“One of the most famous series Tandav was objected and the Amazon Prime apologized to society due to religious sentiments hurt. To identify the facts, we need to find the top 10 OTT series that would generate the list of series names, out of which most of the series contain hate, sexuality, nudity, promotions of drugs, etc. type of content. By just mentioning that the content is 18+ cannot solve the problem to stop the nuisance presented by these stakeholders. It is highly recommended that the proper regulations and guidelines need to be introduced, which should be abided by the promoters and be sure that they publish the content which should be legally compliant,” Dr Girdhar further added.