Online NEWS and OTT platforms

GS 3 Science and Technology Developments and their applications and effects in everyday life.


       An Over-The-Top (‘OTT’ media service) is a streaming media service offered directly to viewers via the Internet. 
       OTT bypasses cable, broadcast, and satellite television platforms, the companies that traditionally act as a controller or distributor of such content.

Contemporary Issue 

     The Information and Broadcasting Ministry has found a vast swathe of unregulated content, namely news online and Over the top (OTT) platforms which had escaped any architecture of regulation.

  • The Union government has brought Over The Top (OTT) platforms, or video streaming service providers such as 
    • Netflix, Amazon Prime and others, under the ambit of the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting.

Present regulation bodies

  • Currently, there is no law or autonomous body governing digital content. 
  • In a gazette notification issued and signed by President Ram Nath Kovind
    • online films, digital news and current affairs content now come under the purview of the I&B Ministry.
  • While the Print was regulated by the Press Council of India and Television
  • Both News and Entertainment, were being regulated by the Cable Networks Regulation Act (2005)
  • Content on online, the Government felt, fell into a black hole with no oversight.
  • Though there is no regulatory mechanism for OTTs as of now, all such platforms come under the Information technology Act, 2000 as they qualify to be called as Intermediaries.
  • Section 79 of the IT Act
    • intermediaries must exercise due diligence while streaming content. 
    • The Guidelines for due diligence have also been framed by the government in 2011.

Over-The-Top platform (OTT)

  • OTTs are streaming media services that streams content online. 
    • Through some means such as applications.
    • used to describe the video-on-demand platforms like Netflix, Amazon prime, etc 
    • also include audio streaming, messaging, internet-based voice calling services.
  • bypasses cable, broadcast, and satellite television platforms, the companies that traditionally act as a controller or distributor of such content.
  • Content is streamed over the public Internet, rather than a closed, private network with proprietary equipment such as set-top boxes.
  • OTT is also used by traditional distributors of content to live stream specialty channels.


  • The issue of content regulation has always been important in India because of the diverse nature of Indian society 
    • in terms of religion, economic status, caste and language.
    • Therefore, the effect that OTT has on society forms the basis of its regulation by the state.
  • The Article 19 which gives a fundamental right to freedom of expression comes with 
    • reasonable restrictions of decency and public morality
    • public order
    • defamation
    • incitement to offences etc.
  • In times of fast changing entertainment media
    • government and other stakeholders must come together 
    • to bring proper framework that will balance the freedom of expression and necessary restrictions.
  • Other countries of the world such as China and USA have come forward to device laws in the wake of progress in artificial intelligence and Internet-of-things
  • India with its huge diversity and demographic nature cannot remain behind.


  • In January 2019, video streaming services had signed a self-regulatory code that laid down a set of guiding principles for content on these platforms.
  • The code adopted by the OTTs prohibited five types of content:
    • Content that deliberately and maliciously disrespects the national emblem or national flag.
    • Any visual or storyline that promotes child pornography.
    • Any content that maliciously intends to outrage religious sentiments.
    • Content that deliberately and maliciously promotes or encourages terrorism 
    • Any content that has been banned for exhibition or distribution by law or court.
      • The government had refused to support this code.

Freedom of Creativity

  • As the medium working on Internet which is relatively free from the regulations and censorship norms
    • it gives a free hand to the content creators to experiment without the fear of getting censored in the end.
  • OTTs are 
    • relatively new 
    • free from formulaic content generation 
    • accepted public morality standards
    • are highly liberated medium for creative art.

Way Forward 

  • The government had been giving enough hints from time to time that it wanted to regulate digital media 
    • but the exact nature of the regulation it wanted to bring was not clear.
  • The government considers digital media and digital aggregators in the same breath but they are different things.
  • It is unclear whether it is looking at licensing or entry barriers, or any other curbs in digital media.
  • There should be a finished industry tie for the achievement of the self-guideline system.
  • An excess of restriction/guideline could influence the innovative freedom of the content essayists/makers and that thusly will influence the viewership of OTT platforms.


      The regulatory framework for OTT platforms has been a work-in-progress since a large portion of 10 years and it would appear that we actually have a couple of gaps to fill in.       
However, monitoring content 24×7 has its own challenges. Ministry has to will set up a committee involving the public to look into complaints received remains to be seen.

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