Billboard for Netflix movie "Thar" is seen on a street in Mumbai

A billboard for the Netflix film “Thar” is seen on a street in Mumbai, India, May 19, 2022. Picture taken May 19, 2022. REUTERS/Francis Mascarenhas/File Photo Acquire License Rights

NEW DELHI, Nov 10 (Reuters) – India on Friday introduced a new broadcasting bill aimed at regulating the sector, which will also apply to streaming giants such as Netflix (NFLX.O), Disney (DIS .N) and Amazon (AMZN.O). ) and calls for the formation of individual content evaluation committees.

Netflix and Amazon have become extremely popular in India, which is expected to become a $7 billion market for the industry by 2027, according to Media Partners Asia. Bollywood’s biggest stars appear in online shows, some of which have been criticized by lawmakers and the public for scenes deemed vulgar or offensive to religious sentiments.

Information and Broadcasting Minister Anurag Thakur said the establishment of content evaluation committees (CECs) by each broadcaster was among the “key innovations” of the new law and would contribute to a ” strong self-regulation”.

“Each broadcaster or broadcast network operator shall establish a Content Evaluation Committee (CEC) composed of members of various social groups,” says the bill, open for public consultation for 30 days.

The proposal, however, comes at a time when streaming companies in India are facing increasing scrutiny over content-related issues.

In July, Reuters reported that the ministry had privately told Netflix and other streaming services that their content should be independently reviewed for obscenity and violence before being released online.

Although all films shown in Indian cinemas are reviewed and certified by a government-appointed committee, streaming content is not.

Under the new bill, the federal government “may determine the size, quorum and operational details of the CEC” and only broadcasts “duly certified” by such a committee will be broadcast, the bill says.

“A historic opportunity for liberalization is being wasted and a paternalistic mechanism of censorship and government control has been proposed,” Apar Gupta, a New Delhi-based technology policy expert, said of the proposed content review.

The law will also give the government the power to regulate any online creator or news media platform, Gupta added.

Reporting by Aditya Kalra; edited by David Evans

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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Aditya Kalra is senior corporate news editor for Reuters in India, overseeing business coverage and reporting on some of the world’s biggest companies. He joined Reuters in 2008 and in recent years has written about the challenges and strategies of a wide range of companies – from Amazon, Google and Walmart to Xiaomi, Starbucks and Reliance. He also works extensively on in-depth and investigative business reporting.

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