Sunday, May 9th, 2021 07:59:26

Rein in OTT Platforms

By Vishwarupa Rath
Updated: April 14, 2021 9:23 am

The relationship between online videos streaming on OTT platforms and the behaviour of its audience is quite an interesting one. On one hand, the new age platform ‘reflects’ the unseen side of society as it really is, and on the other hand, it ‘affects’ the way society behaves.

Thus, the heat of the controversies regarding these ‘Over the Top’ platforms is fathomable. To look upon the First side, which reflects the existing behaviours, we will have to create a little flexible, tolerant space in mind so that we can see that they aren’t making up anything totally alien to the already existing reality. Sure, the vulgar language isn’t a thing to promote, but if I repeat again, it only reflects the image as it already is. It’s not a proud fact but the truth is, we are driving towards a society which is forgetting the beauty of pure language, engaged in the fancy world of abusive languages. Now, we’re able to see the face of it, because these platforms reflect the widely seen behavior . Recognition of a behavior shall be the first step in order to take it to a path, more suitable.

Now talking about some controversies made against the free media, it reminds me of the ‘pigeon with closed eye’s, phrase. If violence, absurdity, obscenity may represent the attacking cat, then we’re becoming the pigeon who instead of facing it, closes the eyes assuming that the cat would disappear. How difficult is it to understand that until we see things as they really are, we cannot be anywhere close to make them better.

I do understand the concern that the censors have, regarding maintaining morality amongst the generation, but the bitter truth is, if immorality is to spread, it shall spread even if these contents are banned and if morality is to persist, it can be there even in the presence of fancy distractions. Now when I’ve been talking about facing the reality, becoming flexible and tolerant, a point that should not be ignored is that these things shall work, provided we are talking about grown-ups and adults. There is a right time for everything and a right audience for every art.

We cannot expose a primary school student to content including harsh violence, crime and vulgarity and expect him/her to practically judge and wisely choose which of those habits he/she supposed to adopt and which to stay away from. This brings me to the second side of OTT, which ‘affects’ human behavior, as rapid as a rabbit’s stride. In this case, observational learning could be a tool to utilise or a dangerous object to stay careful about, depending upon the hands that receive them. Adults do have the capacity to look, perceive, discriminate the behavior they pick up from the things they observe, but funnily there’s no guarantee that they’ll not get influenced by it much. But still their mind isn’t new to a lot of things that they have experienced and thus exposure to content won’t be as much of a threat for them as it could be for children. When we talk about young minds that are yet to be shaped up and structured according to their own will, exposure to certain content shall leave them confused and lost, thus having serious negative repercussions. It is therefore the most important thing for OTT platforms to ensure their content is open to limited and right audience.

Stories told through cinema and web series are one or the other forms of art and I believe over-restricting them shall dull their beauty. Art itself signifies freedom of some kind. Quoting what our Information and Broadcasting minister Prakash Javedkar said in a conference held on 25th February 2021: “Every freedom shall be responsible freedom and for the same reason a three tier platform has been made:-

“1) Grievance redressal mechanism by the company itself; for OTT and digital news media wherein both have to disclose detailed information.

“2)Second tier involves a Press Council of India like self-regulatory body that will be headed by a retired Supreme Court or a high court judge or any eminent person in this category.

“3)At the third tier, I and B Ministry will formulate an oversight mechanism and establish an inter- departmental committee for hearing grievances. this committee will have the power to block content.”
In these freshly made rules it includes self classification and certification of online streaming videos by CBFC (central board of film certification) according to age, in following way:

• U ( unrestricted content made for all types of audience)
• U/A ( 7+)
• U/A ( 13+)
• U/A (16+)
• Adults

 

There were no such particular rules for OTT platforms before this and this new change surely is a step closer to betterment.

Although this is the point as to which government could help, it is also the responsibility of the creators of content as to what they give out to people.

Given that such large audience is heavily affected ‘under the influence’ of ‘over the top’ platforms, it should be ensured that the message that is delivered and the way in which it’s conveyed, is decided by thoughtful and deserving people, who are in power.

For such platforms are not merely source of entertainments, but also an influential medium to spread ideas, opinions and trends.

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