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Indian government considering censorship of online streamers

Netflix Indian original, Sacred Games

Streamers like Netflix and Amazon are facing the threat of censorship in India, claims a new report.

According to government sources cited by Reuters, the Indian government is considering censorship of content on streaming platforms, with film and TV certification bodies already moderating public content in the country.

The consideration follows a number of court cases and complaints filed to the police which allege content hosted by online platforms is obscene or sacrilegious.

Netflix original Sacred Games, for example, faced a court challenge over supposed “offensive scenes” and insulting comments made towards a former Indian prime minister, though the case was dismissed. 

A similar complaint was made to the police in September by an Indian politician. They alleged that some Netflix shows “defamed Hindus”, and the case is currently pending further investigation. 

Concerned by potential censorship, Netflix and native streamer Hotstar signed a self-regulation code in January. However, Amazon did not co-sign the code and said that the “current laws are adequate”.

Despite this, the cases since have prompted the government’s Information & Broadcasting and IT ministries to discuss a regulatory framework for online content providers. 

The source however did point out that it is possible the government will decide against any regulations and that other options are being explored. 

There are also concerns over the way that potential provocative content is presented on different platforms. A specific example given by the source is the lack of anti-tobacco warnings for Bollywood films on Amazon and Netflix, warnings that are required on traditional TV. 

Netflix is in a healthy position in India, with the company recently launching a mobile-only subscription plan that costs RS199 (€2.59) per month and is restricted to a single mobile device with 480p. Speaking during the company’s Q3 earnings call, chief product officer Greg Peters said that “we’ve been very, very happy with the mobile plan,” and that it is  “actually performing better than we tested”.

Tags: Amazon, India, Netflix