UPSC Courses

editorial plus

Editorial Plus

GS-II : Governance

On government regulation of online news, OTT services

  • 14 November, 2020

  • 5 Min Read

On government regulation of online news, OTT services


  • The recent decision of the government to bring video streaming services and online news under the ambit of the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting.
  • This government has, from time to time, made it clear that it is in favour of bringing these digital services under some sort of regulatory framework.

Advantages of censorship on online streaming videos:

  • Levelling the playing field: But on one count at least this decision may have some merit, and that is if this is targeted at levelling the playing field by bringing new digital players within the purview of a regulation that non-digital players have been subject to all these years.
  • Need for certification: New movies, before theatrical release, have to get through the certification process of the Central Board of Film Certification.
    • In contrast, video streaming services such as Netflix and Amazon Prime, which have become key distributors for new movies and entertainment content and have gathered millions of subscribers in India in recent years, have not had to follow any such requirement.
    • It cannot be denied that regulation, of the light-touch kind, which serves as an advisory for the content being presented to the viewers, plays a useful role.
  • New Investment rules: There is little doubt that digital media have grown to be influential even if some sections have struggled to make money.
    • The government recognises this, and just a few months ago, introduced new investment rules for digital news media, where a number of legitimate initiatives have now taken shape.

Key questions

  • But is the intent here to create a level playing field, and nothing more? And how will the regulatory mechanisms function?


  • More governmental interference and censorship: The fear is that this will just end up facilitating more governmental interference and censorship, especially problematic when it comes to regulating digital news.
  • Freedom of speech can be curtailed: In a democracy, whose progress is dependent on free speech, it is important then that regulation is not an excuse to stifle voices, especially those not palatable to the ruling class.

Way forward:

  • For decades now, the print media and television media have managed themselves in self-regulation frameworks where one of their main goals has been to maintain their independence.
  • Self-regulation is a must, and censorship a definite no-no.

Source: TH


Search By Date

Newsletter Subscription
SMS Alerts

Important Links

UPSC GS Mains Crash Course - RAW Prelims Answer Key 2024