The government said Thursday that a “code of ethics” and a three-tier grievance mechanism would apply to news publishers, over-the-top (OTT) platforms and digital media.
Seeking to establish a soft regulatory framework for these entities, the government has said that OTT platforms (like Netflix and Amazon Prime Video) should self-classify content into five categories based on age – U (Universal), U / A 7+ (years), U / A 13+, U / A 16+ and A (Adult).
Reporters at the briefing, Information and Broadcasting Minister Prakash Javadekar said these platforms would be required to implement parental locks for content rated U / A 13+ or above, and mechanisms reliable age verification for content rated “A”.
Publishers of content organized online will also need to prominently display the rating score specific to each content or program as well as a content descriptor informing the user of the nature of the content, he added. This would help viewers assess the nature of the content at the start of each program and make an informed decision before watching the program.
Editors of digital media news would be required to observe the Press Council of India Standards of Journalistic Conduct and Program Code under the Cable TV Network Regulation Act, offering rules fair play between offline (print, TV) and digital media. , according to an official statement.
A three-level grievance mechanism has been established under the rules with varying levels of self-regulation, level 1 being self-regulation by publishers; level 2 self-regulation by the self-regulatory bodies of publishers; and level 3 would be a monitoring mechanism.
The rules state that a publisher should appoint a grievance officer, based in India, who will be responsible for resolving grievances received by him. The officer will make a decision on each grievance received by him within 15 days.
The rules also state that there may be one or more publisher self-regulatory bodies.
Such a body will be headed by a retired Supreme Court judge, a High Court or an independent eminent person, and will have no more than six members. Such a body will have to register with the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting.
This body will oversee the publisher’s compliance with the code of ethics and deal with grievances that have not been resolved by the publisher within 15 days, the statement said.
In addition, the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting will develop a monitoring mechanism and publish a charter for self-regulatory bodies, including codes of good practice. It sets up an interministerial committee to hear grievances.
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