Delhi High Court may have rejected the petition in February 2019 to facilitate formulation of content regulation on OTT, but it has not deterred the NGO, Justice for Rights to go ahead and file a revised petition in Supreme Court. And Supreme Court has taken cognizance of the contents of the petition and has issued notice to the Centre to offer its comments about formulating guidelines so that OTT may be regulated, as per a tweet by ANI.
It is not that the segment that constitutes OTT is not aware of the fact and is not taking action to introduce an element of self-regulation. In January 2019 itself, Online Curated Content Providers (OCCPs) like Netflix, Hotstar, SonyLiv, ALTBalajai, etc., formulated a self-regulating code that would regulate the video streaming content, but it seems that the activists want further regulation.
Perhaps sensing the need for putting in place a Standard Operating Procedure pertaining to streaming of content through OTT, even Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI), has initiated the process by initiating a study of global best practices, that includes the practices put in place in European countries as well.
There are two issues that are getting focused attention by TRAI. One of the issues is how to bring in the OTT service providers to facilitate in expansion of the telecom network in the country. But the main issue is the issue of level playing field! The established telecom service providers (TSPs) have flagged that the OTT service providers have not paid any licensing fees that they have paid and therefore it is not a level playing field and this distortion needs to be corrected.
Experts of the industry hold the view that OTT and TSP need to come on a common platform of convergence as India is such a huge market and the mutual synergies arising out of the convergence could literally exponentially increase the outreach of the content of all kind to the hitherto unreached sections of the populations. The synergy is more so pertinent as the TSPs have provided the last mile connectivity and the OTT service providers could latch on to it for content.
The TSPs presently are not providing original content but are offering the content of the OTTs like Amazon Prime as a part of bundled packaging and the consumers’ appetite has been vetted. Now the time indeed has come through an enabling mechanism from TRAI to facilitate convergence between OTT and TSP so that the consumer is spoilt for choices. When the consumer would be spoilt for choices, obviously the content quality would increase qualitatively as then only sex and violence would not be able to glue the eyeballs of the consumers!