Should OTT content in India have a censor board to strap creative freedom just like films? – PINKVILLA

The recent ban on talk show host John Oliver's video criticising the government's CAA move is a glaring example of how censorship on OTT is not the best idea.

The government reignited the conversation of censorship on web-streaming platforms earlier this month when Information and Broadcasting (I&B) Minister Prakash Javadekar met representatives of Netflix, Amazon, Hotstar, Voot, Zee5, ALTBalaji and SonyLIV, among others. Citing an example of OTT censorship in China, where a set of rules govern online platforms, Javadekar related his experience of watching online content with his family at home and thus asked these web streaming giants to regulate their content for the Indian audiences. He also gave these OTT companies to come to agreeable mutual terms and set up a body and put in motion a code of conduct in the next 100 days.

While Javadekar's OTT-watching experience with his family hints at regulating content due to Indian culture and making it 'safe', the big question that looms over, is do we need to censorship on web-streaming platforms when already content on television and in cinema halls is censored rigorously?

The fact that a minister has cited China as an example -- a country where basic websites are banned for political reasons, it is worrisome. The recent ban on talk show host John Oliver's video criticising the government's CAA move is a glaring example of how censorship on OTT is not the best idea.

Indian filmmakers have had issues with the CBFC since ages. The most explosive example in recent times was for 2016's Udta Punjab -- a film on the serious drug issue in the state. Bizarre demands of the CBFC like removing the name of the state and swear words, led to a debate like no other. In the end, the filmmakers prevailed and the Bombay High Court allowed for the film's release with just one cut from 89.

When it comes to OTT, the audience largely changes. However, in recent times, OTT is turning out to be the money maker with series like Sacred Games, Made In Heaven and Mirzapur changing the game. From teens to the young to the middle-aged, there is something for everyone on web platforms. But does that mean we need to put the content under strict regulation and mute swear words?

Kiara Advani, who recently starred in Netflix's Guilty, rightly told Bollywood Life in an interview, "I feel if people want to watch something, they will find a way to watch it. So rather than allowing someone to take a route which we do not want, why not keep it simple and do the rating system. Everyones responsible when they are making something. Web allows you to keep it real and not be restrictive like films which release in theatres."

We have not even started the debate on OTT censorship and Oliver's episode was already banned. Do you think web platforms need to put their foot down or regulate self censorship?

Let us know in the comments section below.

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Should OTT content in India have a censor board to strap creative freedom just like films? - PINKVILLA

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