The Union government has brought online mediums, including films and news content under the ambit of the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting.

According to a gazette notification issued on Wednesday and signed by President Ram Nath Kovind, online audio-visual programmes and current affairs content will now be regulated by the Union ministry headed by Prakash Javadekar.

At present, there is no law or autonomous body governing digital content or Over-the-top (OTT) platforms. Digital content providers such as Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, and Hotstar will now be regulated under the I&B ministry.

The Cabinet Secretariat in a notice stated, “In exercise of powers conferred by clause (3) of Article 77 of the Constitution, the President hereby makes the following rules further to amend the Government of India (Allocation of Business) Rules, 1961, namely–These rules may be called the Government of India (Allocation of Business) Three Hundred and Fifty-Seventh Amendment Rules, 2020. They shall come into force at once.”

In the Government of India (Allocation of Business) Rules, 1961, in the second schedule, under the heading–‘Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (Soochana Aur Prasaran Mantralaya)’ after entry 22, the following sub-heading and entries shall be inserted, namely–Films and Audio-Visual programmes made available by online content providers.
News and current affairs content on online platforms, read the notification.

The Supreme Court had earlier sought the Centre’s response on a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) for regulating OTT platforms such as Netflix and Amazon Prime Video by an autonomous body. The PIL stated that digital content on these platforms is made available to the public at large without any filter or screening.

While the Press Council of India (PCI) regulates the print media, the television news channels come under News Broadcasters Association (NBA). The Advertising Standards Council of India regulates advertising content and Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) monitors films.