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Aditya Kalra: Why Netflix and others may have a ‘problem’ with the broadcasting bill

Last month, the government introduced a new draft law to regulate the broadcasting sector that will also apply to OTT platforms. The bill proposes the formation of individual content evaluation committees with members from various social groups. These members will review and approve shows before they are released on streaming platforms. US-based streaming giant Netflix, billionaire Mukesh Ambani-owned Viacom18 and other streaming companies are reportedly planning to collectively request the government to delay or revamp a broadcast bill.
These companies are concerned that the new law will involve heavy obligations for the sector. It is important to note all films in Indian cinemas are reviewed and certified by a government-appointed board. However, the censorship doesn’t apply to streamed content.
Why streaming platforms are concerned with the broadcasting bill
According to a report by the news agency Reuters, top executives of several streaming companies including Netflix and Viacom18 (which runs the JioCinema platform) met for a closed-door meeting this week. Private sources claimed that the companies discussed a plan to approach the government to delay and consider changes to the bill.
Representatives of Netflix and other platforms raised concern that the content committees would lead to excessive pre-screening checks. One of the sources said that this will raise implementation problems as a high number of content that goes online will need to be reviewed first.
The report also cited one of the sources noting that during this week’s meeting streaming executives flagged the risks that come with the law and can even impact the industry’s growth.

Another source said: “There are worries about extensive government oversight on streaming platforms.”
Streaming platforms like Netflix, Amazon, Disney and JioCinema have become hugely popular in India. As per Media Partners Asia’s prediction, the OTT industry is set to grow into a $7 billion market for the sector by 2027.
The government says that the new law and formation of content committees will help in “robust self-regulation”. According to the bill, the government will be able to define the committee’s size and quorum and only “duly certified” shows will be broadcasted.

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