Video streaming platforms such as Netflix and Amazon Prime Video could soon be subjected to censorship. A senior government source revealed that the Indian government is currently discussing the matter. It will be a contrasting shift from the current policy where the law doesn’t allow censorship of content on streaming platforms. For context, the country already moderates films and TV through certification bodies. As per the report, the increasing number of court cases is the reason for the ongoing discussions about censorship.
Netflix and Amazon Prime Video censorship details
According to Reuters, the number of court cases and police complaints against content on streaming platforms is on the rise. Several complaints also claim that “some content was obscene or insulted religious sentiment”. One of the streaming giants Hotstar has already signed a “self-regulation code” bade in January. However, Amazon India did not sign the code while stating “the current laws are adequate”. Responding to the self-regulation code, the government official added, “The self-regulation isn’t the same for all”. This lack of uniformity in the self-regulation code is raising a concern and the government is looking in the matter.
Taking a look at a few of the cases, Netflix original “Sacred Games” was the first to face a court challenge. As per the report, the challenger claimed that the web series contains “offensive scenes”. It also registered protest against a derogatory remark “about a former Indian prime minister”. The court later dismissed the case. A politician also filed a police complaint against some Netflix shows for “defaming Hindus”. We are not sure if the police complaint will go any further.
It looks like Information and Broadcasting ministry is currently working with the IT ministry to create a regulatory framework. The report also indicated that the government can go against regulation. The direction of the final decision is unclear at the time of writing. As per the report, the government was also concerned about the “disparity in how some content appeared on different mediums”. For instance, smoking scenes in Bollywood movies on streaming services do not carry anti-tobacco warnings.