Video on demand players Hotstar, Jio, SonyLIV, Network18 and Eros have signed up to form an independent adjudicatory council to resolve consumer complaints, a step some streaming platforms have termed as increased censorship, regressive and unnecessary.
The Digital Content Complaint Council (DCCC) will be led by a retired judge and have representation from government bodies and industry.
Under Tier 2 of the code, companies will also receive complaints from the government. However, it has removed content outraging religious sentiments from the list of prohibited content.
Out of the nine original signatories of the self-regulatory code, only five members have signed on to the DCCC, also referred to as ‘Tier 2’ of last year’s Code.
“Arré hasn’t opted out but it hasn’t signed yet on Tier 2 as we need some more time for aligning with more players in the Online Curated Content platforms industry and not just a few. I don’t believe this is a priority and even from the government’s point of view,” said Ajay Chacko, cofounder and CEO of content platform Arre.
According to sources, Netflix, AltBalaji, Arre, MX Playerand Zee5 have written to the Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) — an industry lobby group that helped draft the code — against DCCC.
“”The first code continues to be of value. When something is working, what is the necessity of this? Out of the 35-40 streaming platforms in India only 5 have signed up. BCCC is regressive and leads to censorship. It is responsible for the broadcast industry not reaching its economic potential,” said an executive from a streaming company that is opted to stay out. The person did not want to be named.
Some industry players believe that broadcasting companies who already follow BCCC rules and lack original content are trying to impose similar restrictions on internet platforms.
DCCC has been drawn up along the lines of the Broadcasting Content Complaints Council (BCCC) and will be launched this week.
Emails sent to IAMAI, Jio, SonyLIV, Network18, MX Player, Eros, Hotstar and AltBalaji remained unanswered. Netflix declined to comment.
“The ‘Self-Regulatory Code’ did not allow the consumer to escalate their grievances in case their complaints went unaddressed, and this proved to be a cause for concern within the signatories as well as with the government,” IAMAI told its members on Monday.
ET has seen a copy of the message and has a copy of the rules governing DCCC.
It added that the ‘Code’ has now been enhanced to allow consumers to escalate their grievances and have them addressed by a council, which will be chaired by either a retired Supreme Court or High Court judge. Other members will include national-level statutory commissions such as National Commission for Women, National Commission for Protection of Child Rights or National Human Rights Commission.
MX Player is owned by Times Internet, the digital arm of the Times Group which publishes this newspaper.