Government Cracks Down on 18 OTT Platforms

In a major crackdown on streaming services showing inappropriate content, the Indian government has banned 18 over-the-top (OTT) platforms for hosting “obscene, vulgar and even pornographic” material despite repeated warnings. The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (I&B) has blocked access to these platforms, along with their associated websites, mobile apps and social media handles, citing violations of Indian laws.

The banned OTT services include Dreams Films, Voovi, Yessma, Uncut Adda, Tri Flicks, X Prime, Neon X VIP, Besharams, Hunters, Rabbit, Xtramood, Nuefliks, MoodX, Mojflix, Hot Shots VIP, Fugi, Chikooflix and Prime Play. In addition to these 18 platforms, the ministry has also disabled 19 websites, 10 apps (seven on Google Play Store and three on Apple App Store), and 57 social media accounts linked to these services.

Misuse of Creative Freedom

Announcing the decision, Union Minister for Information and Broadcasting Anurag Singh Thakur emphasized that OTT platforms have a responsibility to ensure their content does not propagate obscenity, vulgarity and abuse under the guise of creative expression. “These platforms have been repeatedly warned against streaming inappropriate content, but they have failed to comply with the government’s directives,” Thakur said.

Content Violated IT Act, IPC and Indecent Representation of Women Act

The I&B Ministry’s decision to ban the 18 OTT platforms was taken under the provisions of the Information Technology Act, 2000, in consultation with other government ministries and domain experts specializing in media, entertainment, women’s rights and child rights.

The Ministry determined that the content was prima facie in violation of Sections 67 and 67A of the IT Act, which deal with publishing or transmitting obscene and sexually explicit material in electronic form. The content also ran afoul of Section 292 of the Indian Penal Code, which prohibits the sale, distribution and public exhibition of obscene books, drawings or objects. Further, the portrayal of women in the banned content was found to contravene Section 4 of the Indecent Representation of Women (Prohibition) Act, 1986.

Move Part of Larger Efforts to Regulate OTT Space

The crackdown on the 18 OTT platforms is part of the government’s broader efforts to regulate the rapidly growing streaming industry in India. In February 2024, the I&B Ministry had notified new guidelines for OTT platforms and digital news publishers, requiring them to set up grievance redressal mechanisms and appoint compliance officers to address user complaints.

 


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