The Indian government has asked major over-the-top (OTT) streaming platforms to take on the responsibility of reviewing their content for explicit and violent material before making it available to the public. This move comes as a response to concerns raised by various stakeholders about the presence of obscene and vulgar content on these platforms. In the meeting held at the Information and Broadcasting Ministry on June 20th, several rounds of discussions were held to review OTT content separately. However, Reviewing OTT content can have its share of problems. While the MIB pushes in this direction, OTT platforms are reluctant of this.

 reviewing OTT content suggested by MIB

MyGov India

Meeting at the Information and Broadcasting Ministry

The proposal was presented to the streaming companies during a meeting held at the Information and Broadcasting Ministry on June 20. Reuters reported on this development, indicating that it was an important discussion between the government and industry stakeholders such as Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Jio Cinemas, etc.

Concerns Raised

In the meeting, the Ministry highlighted concerns expressed by Members of Parliament, citizen groups, and the general public regarding the nature of the content being streamed on OTT platforms. This prompted the government to take action in order to address public concerns and ensure that content aligns with certain standards of decency and appropriateness.

Apple Tv raised concerns over reviewing OTT content by MIB


Streaming Companies’ Objections

During the meeting, the representatives from major streaming companies, including Amazon, Disney, Netflix, Reliance’s broadcast unit, Viacom18, and Apple TV, voiced their objections to the proposal. Their concerns might revolve around issues related to creative freedom, censorship, and the potential impact on their businesses.

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Lack of Decision

As a result of the differences in viewpoints and concerns raised during the meeting, no definitive decision was reached at that time. It’s possible that further discussions and consultations might be required to find a middle ground between the government’s objectives and the streaming companies’ interests.

Regulatory Framework

The regulatory framework under which OTT platforms operate in India is defined by The Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021 (IT Rules). These rules lay out guidelines and standards for content, and they also establish a three-tier grievance redressal mechanism, with a government body involved at the third level. This mechanism is intended to address any complaints or concerns related to content on these platforms.

Viacom 18 raised concerns over reviewing OTT content by MIB

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Why is this problematic?

Reviewing OTT content can be problematic due to several reasons. Some of the key issues include-

Freedom of Expression

The process of reviewing content can potentially infringe upon the freedom of expression of the creators. Artistic expression often involves exploring complex and controversial themes whose essence would be diluted through rigorous reviewing.

Censorship and Creativity Constraints

Government or external review of content can result in censorship and creative constraints, where certain ideas or perspectives may be restricted or suppressed to comply with specific guidelines or regulations. 

reviewing OTT content by MIB may result in Censorship

Creative Market

Cultural and Artistic Diversity

Stories and themes that are culturally significant or relevant to a particular community may be misinterpreted or misunderstood during the review process, leading to unintended consequences.

Subjectivity and Bias

Content review is inherently subjective and can be influenced by the personal beliefs, values, and biases of the individuals.

Administrative Burden

Implementing a robust content review system requires significant resources and administrative oversight. This burden can be challenging for both streaming platforms and regulatory bodies.

Impact on Independent Creators: Content review processes could disproportionately affect independent creators and smaller production houses, who may lack the resources and influence.

Why is it necessary to review OTT content?

The importance of reviewing OTT content stems from the need to strike a balance. Several reasons underscore the significance of content review-

Protecting Vulnerable Audiences

OTT platforms have a wide and diverse audience, including children and teenagers. The content review helps to ensure that inappropriate or harmful material is not easily accessible.

Support groups criticise reviewing OTT content by MIB


Compliance with Regulations

Many countries have specific regulations and guidelines governing content on digital platforms. The content review helps OTT platforms comply with these laws and avoid legal issues or penalties.

Addressing Misinformation and Hate Speech

Content review is essential in identifying and addressing misinformation, hate speech, or harmful propaganda that could spread through online content. This promotes a safer online environment and reduces the potential for societal division and unrest.

Maintaining Trust and Credibility

The content review helps OTT platforms maintain the trust and credibility of their audience. When viewers know that a certain level of quality and appropriateness is maintained in the content offered, they are more likely to engage with the platform positively.

Healthy reviewing OTT content by MIB


Overall, the issue highlights the ongoing debate between freedom of expression, artistic creativity, and the need to ensure responsible content dissemination, especially when it comes to online platforms that have a wide reach and audience impact. Striking the right balance between these aspects remains a challenge for regulators and stakeholders alike.