Delhi HC Rules in Favour of Online Streaming Platforms; Says Censorship is Not Essential.

On the 8th of February Delhi High Court ruled in favour of digital streaming services in response to a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed by Justice for Rights that sought a ban on streaming services till regulations are imposed. The bench constituted of Chief Justice Rajendra Menon and Justice VK Rao who quashed the litigation following the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting citing that such platforms do not require a licence to broadcast its services.

The NGO alleged that online media streaming platforms show “uncertified, sexually explicit and vulgar” content. The petition goes on to state that web series such as Sacred games, Game of Thrones and Spartacus available on platforms like Prime, contain “vulgar, profane, sexually explicit, pornographic, morally unethical and virulent” content that often tends to portray women in an “objectifying manner”. The NGO also sought an order to these ministries to pull down “legally restricted content” immediately from the OTT platforms.

After the filing of the petition, last month, all the streaming services came together to sign an agreement on self-censorship code to prohibit content that disrespects the national emblem and flag, offends religious sentiments, promotes terrorism, shows children in sexual acts etc. According to the Internet and Mobile Association of India(IAMAI).

IAMAI in a statement had stated that the code focusses on two important principles, first, to protect consumer interest while offering them a variety of content choices while exercising creative freedom and second, the code represents uniform principles and guidelines which will be adhered to by all signatories to the code, in letter and spirit. The signatories of the agreement include – Netflix, Hotstar, Voot, Times Internet, Eros, AltBalaji, Zee, Arre and Sony. However, Amazon Prime video helped draft the agreement but is not a signatory.

There still is raging debate whether censorship curbs the creative freedom and as an emerging economic power, we are yet to witness many discussions of such kind.

Sources : Financial Express, Indian Express, Scroll

Image sources: Digit, KawarthaNOW

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