India is considering censoring streaming platforms like Netflix and Amazon Prime Video, Reuters reported on Thursday (Oct. 17).
An anonymous senior government official in India told Reuters other options are being explored to avoid regulation.
Censorship concerns caused Netflix and India’s Hotstar to sign a self-regulation code in January, although Amazon declined.
“The self-regulation isn’t the same for all, which is raising a concern … the directions are clear; we have to see how to address the problems,” the government official told the news outlet.
The source said legal and police complaints have charged that some content was offensive and obscene or “insulted religious sentiment.”
There was also concern over inconsistent content among different mediums, the official told Reuters. For example, any smoking scenes must have the mandated anti-tobacco warning, but it doesn’t appear across all platforms.
Netflix was taken to court over alleged offensive content in its Indian series “Sacred Games.” In another instance, a politician filed a police complaint charging that some Netflix shows insulted Hindus.
Censorship of content on streaming platforms is not currently allowed, although public content in India is moderated.
India’s Information and Broadcasting and IT Ministries are now in discussions to come up with a governing scheme for streaming content suppliers.
“With regulation, all of the (global) content will need to be sanitized for India – a huge, expensive and time-consuming exercise,” Prasanto Roy, a New Delhi technology policy analyst who advises global tech companies, told Reuters.
Walmart’s Flipkart reportedly intends to begin a free video streaming service in India in the coming months. The eTailer is looking to launch video streaming for Flipkart Plus loyalty program members. Customers of Flipkart can become members by collecting 300 “super coins” at the speed of two for every $1.40, or 100 rupees, spent through its platform. As Flipkart will not produce originals initially, the company will license content from local studios like Balaji Telefilms and companies such as Walt Disney.