We need to understand that in the name of creative freedom to the ‘Content Creators’ we cannot allow potential damaging or commonly unacceptable content on the internet. Even if a small section of the society finds a particular content to be unacceptable on the grounds of morality or anything else then that content must be censored. More importantly, what is the harm if there is a dedicated body (organization) to regulate the content streaming on the internet? It is a common knowledge that there is a Censorship Board analysing & regulating the contents of the mainstream cinema as well as of the television shows!
Therefore, if there could be a Censorship Board to monitor those contents, which are released in the theatres & on the television, then why is there not even a single regulating body to monitor the activities taking place on the internet. Moreover, with the ever-increasing trend of the web series contents releasing so frequently on the various OTT Platforms the need for the censorship in the case of online streaming contents seems much necessary. For instance, if a movie or a show contains abusive dialogues & adult scenes beyond a scope then the Censor Board holds the full power to take all the required actions by the books, over those things before the final release of the content.
Unfortunately, this kind of necessary regulatory actions by the Censor Board is valid only in the case of theatre & television release, completely leaving out the Online Content Streaming Channels. The Ministry of Electronics & Information Technology (MEITY), Government of India had informed that they do not have the authority to regulate the content on the internet and ‘there is no provision for regulating or licensing for an organization or establishment for putting up content on the internet.’ Well, it is common sense that if a content creator is not getting the liberty to show the potential damaging contents via the medium of mainstream films & television shows then that content creator would choose the path of OTT Platforms!
Ultimately, this is how the content creators in the name of ‘Creative Freedom’ misuse the OTT Platforms. Now, this is where the government needs to step in and make a separate body to monitor the releases on the online streaming channels or increase the scope of the current existing Censor Board, so that they could look over the contents that are being freely released online. There is something more to note over here, now if a mainstream cinema or a television show violates the provisions of the Information Technology Act and contains prohibitory material, complaints can be made to the concerned statutory authority. However, if same violations are made in the contents releasing on the online streaming channels then they gets away with a free pass.
Now, is this fair from any angle? In a nation, where we talk about Uniform Civil Code & quote slogans like ‘One Nation, One Rule’ only to imply that rule should be similar or equal for everyone, this free pass to online streaming channels is nothing but our failure. Well, you can very well see the irony when someone talks about giving free pass to the OTT Platforms in the name of freedom or liberty to the content creators. It is the need of the hour for the government to monitor the contents flowing freely over the online channels. If the mainstream movies & television shows are monitored then the contents of the internet release should be monitored too because there cannot be two rules in one single country over things of similar nature!
Written By NEEL PREET – Author of the Books, Voice From The East (2016); Journey With Time Place And Circumstances (2018) & Indian Defence Files (2021).