OTT platforms Regulation

OTT platforms Regulation


This article covers “Daily Current Affairs” and the topic details “OTT platforms Regulation”. This topic has relevance in the Governance section of the UPSC CSE exam.

For Prelims:

About Online Curated Content (OCC) or OTT Platforms?

For Mains:

GS 2: Governance

Regulations for OTT Platforms?


Why in the news?

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) does not have jurisdiction over Over-the-Top (OTT) platforms such as Hotstar. These platforms fall under the governance of the Information Technology Rules, 2021, as notified by the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY), as affirmed by India’s telecom appellate panel.



  • The Department of Telecommunications (DoT) had introduced a draft telecom bill aiming to classify Over-The-Top (OTT) platforms as telecommunication services and subject them to regulation similar to telecom operators. In parallel, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) had issued a consultation paper on regulating OTT platforms. However, the IT Ministry contended that internet-based communication services fell outside the DoT’s jurisdiction under the Allocation of Business Rules.


Key Points:

  • India’s Telecom Appellate Panel has declared that OTT streaming platforms, like Disney+Hotstar, do not fall under the purview of the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI).
  • The Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT) made this ruling, stating that OTT platforms do not require government permission or licenses and are governed by the Information Technology Rules of 2021 as notified by the IT Ministry.
  • This ruling is significant because both TRAI and the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) had been working towards regulating OTT services, a move contested by the IT Ministry.


Online Curated Content (OCC) or OTT Platforms:

  • OCC Platforms are businesses that specialize in curating and presenting a wide range of content through online video-on-demand services.
  • Prominent examples of OCC Platforms in India include Amazon Prime, Netflix, Hotstar, Zee5, and others.
  • These platforms operate using a “pull model,” allowing customers to choose and view content at their convenience.


Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code Rules, 2021:

  • The government of India introduced the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules 2021.
  • These rules primarily address issues related to social media and over-the-top (OTT) platforms.
  • They have been formulated under the authority of Section 87(2) of the Information Technology (IT) Act, 2000, and they supersede the earlier Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines) Rules of 2011.


Regulations for OTT Platforms:

  • Self-Classification of Content:
    • OTT platforms, referred to as publishers of online curated content in these rules, are required to categorize their content into five age-based categories: U (Universal), U/A 7+, U/A 13+, U/A 16+, and A (Adult).


  • Parental Lock:
    • Platforms must implement parental locks for content classified as U/A 13+ or higher.
    • Reliable age verification mechanisms are necessary for content classified as “A.”


  • Display Rating:
    • Platforms must prominently display the classification rating specific to each content or program.
    • Content descriptors should inform users about the nature of the content and provide viewer guidance (if applicable) at the beginning of every program.
    • This empowers users to make informed decisions before watching the content.


Regulations for Publishers of News on Digital Media:

  • Adherence to Norms of Journalistic Conduct:
    • Publishers of news on digital media platforms are required to adhere to the Norms of Journalistic Conduct of the Press Council of India.
    • They must also follow the Programme Code under the Cable Television Networks Regulation Act 1995.
    • These regulations aim to establish a level playing field between offline media (Print, TV) and digital media.


Grievance Redressal Mechanism:

  • Three-Level Grievance Redressal Mechanism:
    • The rules establish a three-level grievance redressal mechanism, promoting different levels of self-regulation.
    • Level-I: Self-regulation by the publishers themselves.
    • Level-II: Self-regulation by the self-regulating bodies of the publishers.
    • Level-III: Oversight mechanism.
    • These mechanisms are designed to address complaints and disputes effectively in the digital media landscape.


Self-Regulation by the Publisher:

  • Publishers must appoint a Grievance Redressal Officer based in India responsible for addressing grievances received.
  • The Grievance Redressal Officer is required to make decisions on each grievance within a 15-day timeframe.


Self-Regulatory Body:

  • One or more self-regulatory bodies of publishers may exist.
  • These bodies must be led by a retired judge from the Supreme Court or a High Court, or an independent eminent person.
  • Each self-regulatory body can have up to six members.
  • Registration with the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting is mandatory for these bodies.
  • Their role includes overseeing publisher adherence to the Code of Ethics and addressing grievances unresolved by the publisher within 15 days.


Oversight Mechanism:

  • The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting is responsible for establishing an oversight mechanism.
  • This mechanism will develop a charter for self-regulating bodies, outlining Codes of Practices.
  • Additionally, an Inter-Departmental Committee will be formed to hear grievances and ensure compliance with the regulations.


Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI)

    • TRAI is a statutory body entrusted with the regulation of India’s telecommunications sector.
    • Established on February 20, 1997, it operates under the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India Act, 1997.
  • Mission and Objectives:
    • TRAI’s primary mission is to safeguard consumer interests.
    • Concurrently, it aims to create an environment conducive to the growth of telecommunications, broadcasting, and cable services.
    • TRAI strives to facilitate India’s active participation in the emerging global information society.


Source:TRAI can’t regulate OTT platforms like Hotstar, says tribunal. This is why it matters | Explained News – The Indian Express


Q.1 Consider the following statements regarding OTT platforms

  1. OTT platforms like Disney+Hotstar do not fall under TRAI’s jurisdiction.
  2. OTT platforms are governed by the Information Technology Rules, 2021.

Which of the statements given above is/are correct? 

(a) 1 only

(b) 2 only

(c) Both 1 and 2

(d) Neither 1 nor 2




Q.2 Consider the following statements regarding the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI):

  1. TRAI was formed by an executive resolution.
  2. TRAI formulates and enforces regulations to ensure fair competition and protect consumer interests in the telecom sector.

Which of the statements given above is/are correct? 

(a) 1 only

(b) 2 only

(c) Both 1 and 2

(d) Neither 1 nor 2




Q.3 Examine the multifaceted dynamics surrounding Over-The-Top (OTT) platforms in India, considering both the opportunities and challenges they present.

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