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Fears over streaming content as Indian Supreme Court rules in favour of screening mechanism

India is heading towards increased scrutiny of content on streaming services, with the country’s Supreme Court ruling in favour of a screening mechanism.

Foreign streaming services have been in the crosshairs of the government for some time due to their ability to air free of censorship. Netflix faced calls for censorship over its series A Suitable Boy in November, while Amazon last week was forced to issue an apology over its political drama Tandav for allegedly offending Hindu religious beliefs. 

The Indian government had already ruled to place streaming platforms under the regulatory supervision of the country’s ministry of information and broadcasting, but this latest move shows the government exerting even greater control.

Supreme Court Justice Ashok Bhushan said: “We are of the view there should be some screening of these types (of content). What they are showing? They are showing pornography also.”

Currently, content on streaming platforms is not subject to vetting, but operators must classify shows and movies into five categories based on appropriate age groups.

As a result of this ongoing scrutiny, Reuters has reported that the likes of Amazon and Netflix are inspecting planned shows and scripts and deleting scenes that could be controversial in the country. 

Amazon’s head of original content in the country, Aparna Purohit, has submitted an anticipatory bail plea over the Tandav controversy. The plea was declined by a state court, but Purohit has been protected from arrest by the Supreme Court.

Tags: Censorship, India