Ministry of Information and Broadcasting Secretary Amit Khare on Wednesday clarified the government’s decision to put online news platforms and content providers under the ministry, saying that it was done to bring all the content in one place and platforms to another.
“The idea behind the change done in the month of November was to bring content at one place that is Ministry of I&B and platform at another that is Ministry of IT [Information Technology],” Khare said during his address at the Confederation of Indian Industry’s Big Picture summit.
The Centre had amended the (Allocation of Business) Rules, 1961, on November 10 to bring over-the-top or OTT platforms such as Netflix, Hotstar and Amazon’s Prime Video under the purview of the I&B Ministry. While film and TV certification bodies moderate public content in India, it did not allow censorship of content on the online streaming platforms. There was no law or autonomous committee governing digital content in the country.
Khare said in his address: “I am just clarifying this because during the past summits, in various media circles, particularly in print circles, there used to be discussions that online and offline content should not be treated differently.”
He added that the same content if it is online, is treated in one fashion, while it is treated by some other ministry in another manner when it is offline.
The secretary said that the role of the ministry would not of a regulator but of a facilitator. Khare said that almost all the film and entertainment industry is private, except for the National Film Development Corporation and Prasar Bharti. The industry, like the Information Technology sector, has grown, which calls for facilitation.
Khare informed the attendees that Prasar Bharti and the National Film Development Corporation were considering making a foray into the OTT platform.
The secretary also said the coronavirus pandemic has opened new avenues such as educational technology and the Indian gaming sector. He said that the gaming sector has an export potential and should be promoted.