Last Updated: 07.08 AM, Jul 15, 2022
Ever since the Centre notified the rules to establish a self-regulatory architecture for over-the-top (OTT) platforms, video streaming services went into a self-censorship mode for content to avoid litigation and woo mass-market subscribers.
While OTT platforms have steered clear of political and religious themes, references to castes or caste-related issues are best avoided. All historical figures, especially Hindus, can be treated only as heroes, and nothing negative can be said about them, content producers and OTT executives said.
It is extremely important to censor shows to avoid explicit language and nudity even for bolder themes to ensure no one files a complaint, they said.
“Platforms are high on self-censorship and are contemplating each move they make,” Akshay Bardapurkar, founder of OTT platform Planet Marathi, said. “Platforms realized that it is always safe to portray people in a positive light and not get into a controversy. No one has the might to take these things on unless you can operate in some other country,” said Bardapurkar who has put on hold a satirical comedy that could ruffle some feathers in the political circles. Bardapurkar said one reason most services are happy to acquire films once they are released in theatres is because they are already approved by the censor board and are not likely to invite trouble.
Content that are being challenged on grounds of racial or communal hatred or violence is expected to continue, said Pranav Srivastava, partner at Phoenix Legal. Similarly, the government may intensify its scrutiny of content promoting fake news or those perceived as against national interest, he added. “More than the authorities, streaming services are mindful of not upsetting audiences to expand their subscriber base. OTT consumption trends and audiences have evolved over the last few years and not just owing to families spending a lot more time together,” Rachita Arya, senior vice-president, OTT content at OML Entertainment, said. The platform has produced shows like Pushpavalli and Lakhon Mein Ek for Amazon Prime Video.
“Most platforms noticed that through entertainment, audiences sought love, escapism and connection with others, and this has reflected in their content selection themes as well. Besides, the political environment, too, has reinforced platforms wanting to err on the side of caution as per their own compliance with legal and PR teams that have their do’s and dont’s on content,” Arya added.