Rostrum’s Law Review | ISSN: 2321-3787

Regulation of Over The Top Platform in India: A Brief Overview

Abstract: Law is a dynamic field. With new inventions and developments, society evolves and so does the law.  Nobody could have predicted the existence of the internet back in the 1950s. However, there are currently 692 million active internet users in India. With the daily increase in internet usage and the variety of media and content being released, the Government needed to maintain standards for both traditional and digital/online content. Numerous complaints and issues were raised by the public regarding the content shown online. The Government sought third-party interference to regulate the content released. In India, OTT is the only platform that was self-regulatory. To bring it in line with similar platforms like television and radio, the Government transferred the administration of this sector to ministry of information and broadcasting.

Keywords: Internet, Internet users, Digital online content, OTT, Information and broadcasting.


The world of media has grown leaps and bounds in the last few years. The rise has been so exponential that within a couple of decades, we have moved on from buying tickets at the nearest theatre or calling from an STD booth, to Netflix, WhatsApp calls and Instagram. With this rise, came the era of “OTT platforms”. The OTT platforms became even more popular with its novelty, ease of access and has been proven to be a much-demanded option for the consumers, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. With the world watching video / audio content online on their phones, ordering groceries online and conducting their work meetings on zoom and google meet during the pandemic, the consumption of OTT platforms increased manifolds, which has led to several authorities re-examining the regime of OTT platforms.

In the 2018, the OTT market saw a global rise of 24% with the steepest growth was recorded from the Asia-pacific region. India along with the rest of the world has also in the past recent years witnessed recurring debate regarding the regulation of content published on OTT platforms. India has a huge market when it comes to entertainment or any other audio-visuals industry. The overall media consumption in the country is growing at a phenomenal annual rate of 9% over the period of the previous six years, which is among the highest in the world. Digital media consumption has seen huge and fast growth the reason being increase in the number of broadband users to a bench mark level of 480 million. Thus, the number of internet users in India also saw a rise of 13.9% during the period from 2016 to 2017.[1]  The Indian public consumes about 190 minutes of video content a day through different OTT platforms. The rate of growth when it comes to consumption of video content is seen at 8% in the last seven years. There has also been a significant increase in the availability of new OTT platforms offering as whole new variety of content for viewing, including OTT services and apps on different devices, apart from existing television channel and theatrical movie going becomes a parallel source of entertainment.[2]

Within the first quarter of 2020, the OTT giant Netflix added a astonishing 15.8 million paid subscribers by presenting itself as the entertainment alternative for multiple people who were stuck in their homes due to lock down. If report by Reuters is to be believed, Netflix’s global reach has gone to a total of 182.9 million users from January to march, with the audience bingeing on shows like-money heist. Also, the Ormax media’s research provides that, the total number the Indian streaming audience (i.e., the number of people over 15 years of age, who watch online content/videos for at least two hours a week on at least one OTT platform) is at 76.5 million. It does not end here as it is projected that OTT market is to have a growth rate of 22% per year and the market shall reach a benchmark of Indian Rupees 12,000 crores in the next four years. A significant reason backing these projections is the significant increase in the use of smartphones, on which content is generally viewed. Based on research by Assocham and PWC, the number of users is likely to hit 859 million by 2022.no wonder, the number of OTT platforms is growing with – from a mere nine platforms in 2012, the number of platforms stands at 35 in 2019. With the covid-19 lockdown, the OTT industry has seen a significant uptick in the number of users and consumption. Original content grew by a mammoth 200%+ and movies grew by a phenomenal 236% respectively. During this lockdown period, we saw our country’s daily active users and application downloads rise by 33% and 41% respectively. Specifically, there has been a significant increase in the numbers of subscription which is over 80% and a 45% rise is recorded in paid audience who watch the content. With the increase availability of Internet and mobile to the general public an immense growth in the OTT market is witnessed in the past decade in the Indian market, resulting in OTT services reaching to masses[3]. The number of subscriptions to the digital media and the OTT services has boomed and the inclusion of the audio-visual traffic was projected to grow to 82% of the total digital traffic[4]. In 2017, the audience base of Netflix and Amazon prime (the video streaming services of the e-commerce giant amazon) grew by 5.37 million and 12.64 million, respectively. However, the Indian government and other regulatory bodies have made no effort to adjust policies to the change in technologies then. This sparked the debate in India over the regulation of digital content and the same has varied between calls for state censorship and self-regulation[5]. The point of dilemma before the authorities is that whether to include the OTT media platforms in the broadcast or films regulatory policies or to include the media giant within the larger scope of internet regulation frameworks. The growth of the OTT/video streaming services is therefore pointing towars the inevitable question of regulation of such online content. In 2018, a consultation paper was released by TRAI which focused on the regulation of OTT services within the country,[6]  the paper inviting third parties to provide their insight and suggestions on the framework that can be effectively used to regulate OTT in a manner similar to the regulation of traditional media. As a response to the government’s attempts to regulate the OTT media space, the IMAI issued in 2020 a code of best of practice, which was signed by some of the OTT platforms.

Given this background, this paper deals with the concept of the OTT platforms, the legal regulations applicable on such platforms, rifts caused between the government authorities and the service providers, legal analysis of the impact of such platforms and provide a way forward as to what the OTT platforms may look like in the Indian jurisdiction in the coming years.


Indian Jurisdiction

The current legislation around telecom service providers, do not define the term OTT,
however, there are some definitions which indicate as to what all services are included within the said term. In technical terms, an OTT provider can be defined as a service provider offering Information Communication Technology services, but neither operates a network nor leases network capacity from a network operator. Instead, OTT providers rely on the global internet and access network speeds (ranging from 256 kilobits for messaging to speeds in the range of megabits (0.5 to 3) for video streaming) to reach the user, hence going “over-the-top” (“OTT”) of a telecom service provider’s (“TSP”) network. Services provided under the OTT umbrella typically relate to media and communications and are, generally, free, or lower in cost as compared to traditional methods of delivery.[7]

In common parlance, the term OTT generally refers to applications and services which are accessible over the internet and ride on operators’ networks offering internet access services e.g., social networks, search engines, amateur video aggregation sites etc.[8] Prime examples for OTT services can be Whatsapp, Google Talk, e-commerce websites like Flipkart and Myntra, and video streaming platforms like Netflix, Prime video, Voot.

Further, based on the kind of service they provide, there are basically three types of OTT apps:

  • Messaging and voice services, (Communication services);
  • Application eco-systems (mainly non-real time), linked to social networks, e-commerce; and
  • Video / audio content.

OTTs can impact revenue of all the three real time application verticals – video, voice and messaging. The various other non-real time applications include e-payments, e-banking, entertainment apps, mobile location-based services and digital advertising.[9]

DoT Committee Report on Net Neutrality, 2015 though did not provide a definition for the term OTT, it explained that OTT applications are enabled by delayering of communications networks through Internet Protocols (IP) that permit the applications layer to function independent of the media layers. Further, the report classified OTT services into two categories:

  • OTT communication services (VoIP) providing real-time person to person telecommunication services using the network infrastructure of the TSP and competing with them; and
  • OTT application services such as media services (gaming), trade and commerce services (e-commerce, radio taxi, financial services), cloud services (data hosting and data management platforms or applications), social media etc using the network infrastructure of the TSP but not competing with them.[10]

Foreign Jurisdiction

With the global reach of the OTT services today, and their increased consumption and adoption, several regulatory regimes across the world have taken their shot at defining what exactly is to be constituted under the term OTT.

  • European Union: The draft version of the Electronics Communication Code released by the EU Commission in September 2016, proposed to expand the definition of electronic communication services to among other things to include ‘interpersonal communication services’ which refers to a service that allows direct interactive and interpersonal exchange of data/content through an electronic communications network between a finite number of people, where the persons initiating/participating in the interaction determine its recipients.[11] This definition would therefore not include broadcasting, general websites, content, web-hosting, gaming and unidirectional information services (such as Twitter), while it would include VoIP services, video calls, text messaging (WhatsApp, SMS, Facebook Messenger, etc.) and emails. Aggregated platforms here would be classified based on whether they constitute a minor ancillary feature that is intrinsically linked to another service.[12]
  • Indonesia: In 2017, Indonesia’s Ministry of Communication and Informatics Regulation put forth a draft ministerial regulation on OTT services, which defined OTT Services as the provision of applications and/or content services through the means internet. Further, the draft regulations define “application service” to include short messages, voice call, video call, electronic mail, and online conversation (chatting/instant messaging), financial transactions service, etc. Content services, on the other hand is the provision of digital information in form of text, sound, image, animation, music, video, movie, game, or combination of part and/or all that includes streaming form or download form by using internet access service through telecommunication network operation.[13]
  • United Kingdom: UK’s telecommunication regulator, Ofcom, in its response to European Commission’s public consultation on the review of the regulatory framework for electronic communications submitted that the Commission’s definition of ECS should remain flexible, continuing to allow regulators to determine, on a case-by-case basis, whether (or not) a specific service consists wholly or mainly in the conveyance of signals on electronic communications networks.[14]
  • United States of America: Within the U.S., several parts of the video market are heavily regulated, with dedicated regulations providing governing provisions for Television broadcasters, cable operators, and even satellite providers[15]. Despite that, they have not framed laws regarding the OTT space which means that the content provided on these OTT platforms is not regulated there. Supplementary aspects such as licensing and pricing aren’t handled either[16]. Such system in the United States prevails as the same is deemed beneficial because it restricts the creation of a monopoly and encourage new platforms to be created and enter the market, which benefits the viewers since there is competitive pricing[17]. This is evident as cable networks such as NBC[18] and the BBC are creating OTT platforms to enter the market.[19]
  • China: The regulatory model of China can be deemed as first of its kind. The size of the online video market was estimated to be 596 million at the end of June 2017. This represents 76% of the online population, emphasizing that online video viewing is one of China’s most common online activities.[20] In 2007, the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film, and Television, an executive agency which is in charge of the administration and supervision of enterprises engaged in the Radio and Television Industries, issued the Administrative Provision of the Internet Audio-Video Program Service the same came into effect in 2008 and the same was later amended in the year 2015.[21]

The provisions provide that All platforms must have in its possession an Internet Audio-Video Program Transmission License to distribute any content online. Due to the strict criteria for obtaining this, a substantial number of platforms and content providers are entering into partnerships with, merging, or even acquiring companies that already possess the license[22]. In addition to this, China has also imposed strict restrictions on any foreign content that is streamed via an online platform. Each separate title would require a separate permit, and to obtain that permit, the entire show or film must be submitted to the Regulators for review and approval[23]. This is one of the main reasons digital contents in China gets a much later release date when compared to the rest of the world, and as a result, there has been a steep increase in the circulation of pirated content.

Sites such as Twitter, Google, and WhatsApp are blocked in China, and their services are provided instead by Chinese providers such as Weibo, Baidu, and WeChat. China has hundreds of thousands of cyber-police appointed by the Government. They regularly monitor all available social media platforms and screen messages deemed to be politically sensitive to ensure that all laws of the land are complied with.

  • Singapore: For regulations of its OTT contents, Singapore has adopted a much more straightforward approach. In Singapore, the Minister for Communications and Information in 2018 put forth an amendment to the Films Act and the Broadcasting Act to clarify on the application of content regulation OTT subscribed video-on-demand platforms.[24] The duties of content regulation are fulfilled by an independent body Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) there.

In here the contents provided by the OTT service providers are classified on the same basis as offline films these categories are –

  • G: for general public viewing;
  • PG: for viewing with parental guidance;
  • PG13: Viewing for children below 13 with parental guidance,
  • NC16: for content not to be viewed by children below 16 years of age,
  • M18: for content intended mature audiences (18 and above) viewing only, and
  • R21: for content where viewing is restricted to audience of 21 years age and above only.

This would mean that there are strict broadcasting standards which are meant for censoring nudity, references to homosexuality, and harsh language for contents offered global OTT platformers in that market[25]. The Code clearly specifies the do’s and don’ts which all service providers are in need to follow, and they should ensure that the content hosted and published by them is in compliance with the prevailing laws of Singapore and do not undermine their national or public interest and their national or public security and do not insult the racial or religious harmony among others[26].

  • Australia: In Australia, the Broadcasting Services Act, 1992 is the principal legislative authority that oversees the OTT content[27]. The regulation is ensured through a complaints-based system introduced on 1st of January 2000, known as the online content co-regulatory scheme. The act covers both content that have been classified and not classified.

The scheme deals explicitly with content which has been classified as[28]:

  • RC (Refused Classification): this classification is provided to any kind of content that cannot be sold, advertised, or imported in Australia;
  • X 18+: this classification is provided to the content that is restricted to adults due to its sexually explicit nature;
  • R 18+: this classification is provided to content that is restricted to adults because of its high impact. The content here can be deemed as offence by some, or;
  • MA 15+: this classification is given to content restricted to people over the age of 15 years due to the reason of its high impact[29]”.

Apart from content classification, the said scheme also provides restriction of access for certain kind of content[30] . The scheme does not allow hosting of/access to RC content. Further, it stops one from accessing content that has been classified as X 18+, R 18+, or MA 15+.[31]

Till now, the Australian Classification Board has been classifying content into both online and offline categories. Recently though, after a two-year pilot test, Netflix got the approval to self-classify its content using its tools[32]. The tool is expected to aid Netflix in classifying its content and issue suitable advisories and quick premier of its content in Australia without any significant delays[33].


In India, the Central Government has the direct control over the OTT platforms. The Government has issued a three-tier regulatory framework for which self-regulation has been proposed. For countries like Singapore and Turkey, the contents of the OTT platforms are governed by an independent body. The Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) in Singapore and The Radio and Television Supreme Council (RTUK) in Turkey are tasked with regulating the OTT platforms in their respective countries. Similar to India to an extent, Australia also follows regulates the OTT industry through statutory law which is the Broadcasting Services Act 1992.

While comparing the legal and regulatory provisions for countries like Singapore, Turkey, Australia, and the UK with ones in India, the regulatory framework of the former countries seems more effective than the later one. As provided, apart from India, Australia is the only country that regulates OTT platforms through law enforcement. Compared to India, the law made by Australia is precise and well-defined. Australia’s regulation is mainly based on two articles in the Broadcasting Act, but the Indian Government has formulated a new law to regulate the OTT platform.

Also, compared to other countries in this study, India is the only country that put forth the notion of self-regulation, whereas other countries use government regulation for censorship of OTT platforms. India promotes the two methods in an effective manner. India has not only developed any dedicate administrative bodies for the regulation of OTT platforms and allow the Government to regulate the OTT platforms directly, but also provides the means of self-regulation for the benefit of OTT platform companies.

While the I&B Ministry advised using the BCCC[34] as a guiding model, Prakash Javedekar, a Rajya Sabha member and who formerly served the I&B ministry has been reported to have taken inspiration form the Chinese model of OTT content regulation for regulation of OTT Platforms in our country[35]. In China, local sites such as Tencent Video have accepted the terms of regulation imposed by the Chinese National Radio and Television Administration while the more significant players such as Netflix and Amazon Prime remain banned[36]. This is similar to the Chinese regulatory model of encryption where popular social media platforms like Telegram and WhatsApp are prohibited. In contrast, locally created platforms such as We Chat remain in business after a substantial compromise on citizens’ privacy[37]. Thus, while OTT content regulation is the need of the hour and the Indian Government needs to provide a higher quality of standard of regulatory guidelines ones similar to Singapore and China however, the same should be done in accordance with our country’s constitutional values that promotes ones online speech and artistic liberty.


India being the biggest producer of motion pictures in the world, has a significant historical background of producing huge quantities of video content for its audience, and now the country is witnessing exponential growth in the audience demand for digital content within the country. These platforms are being increasingly used for varied tasks like- communication, video, and music streaming and so one. The OTT platforms provides its users multiple advantages some of them are listed as follows:

  • A variety of novel internet-based services, like e-commerce, social media, banking, and insurance, e-government, online education, among other things;[38]
  • OTT and VoD platforms like- Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hotstar and so on providing the audience with personalized video content which allows the users to modify and maximize their media consumption;[39]
  • Communication services are now available at significantly lower costs, and in some case without incurring any additional expense, essentially providing OTT, VoIP and messaging applications, such as Skype, WhatsApp messaging, voice and video, Facebook (now known as Meta) Messenger.[40]

For a further and deeper analysis, the digital content available to users can also be divided into two categories based on the source of content generation namely:

  • User-generated content: Refers to the content that is accessible on networking and social platforms like Snapchat, Facebook, YouTube, etc.[41]
  • Commercial content: Refers to the content provided by OTT platformers, online publishers/broadcasters like Netflix, Amazon Prime Videos, Hulu, ZEE5 and other national or regional platformers


In India, earlier television had been one of the most preferred choices for entertainment, advertisement, and conveying information to the people in general. The utilization of video content has conventionally been through television or theatrical movies.

With technological advancement, it is now feasible to add additional convenience by web-based access or VoD services. OTT has changed the industry by presenting itself as a means of entertainment and information that runs parallel to the conventional mode of distribution like cable or broadcast television therefore challenging the same.

Several media outlets as of late have step by step moved towards releasing their content on streaming platforms such as Hulu, Netflix, Hotstar and Amazon Prime Video, the pandemic and increase being one of the most significant factors contributing to the shift. Trends and, consumer preferences revealed preference of the younger generation audience towards online streaming compared to cable TV. The overwhelming responses for series like Sacred Games and Mirzapur from critics and audiences is the evidence of the same and also points that quality of content is the key factor that is influencing the audience move towards streaming services[42].

During the initial stages of the digital industry, India saw rise of OTT platforms with few, yet big players; a majority of them are existing traditional players like Voot by Viacom18, Alt Balaji by Balaji Productions, etc. The busy schedule of the present generation, their desire for a convenient way of life and propensity and getting everything on their fingertips has brought extraordinary changes in their media devouring propensities as well[43]. The entertainment industry is witnessing a massive development towards digital formats. Earlier, it was the television that saw the highest video consumption by viewers however, the faster-growing accessibility to cheap and free internet is providing a path for the emerging user segment that wants to consume customisable and on-demand multimedia content[44]. This has led to a significant rise in video traffic consumption. Within its present structure, VoD refers to the browsing of video content through the Internet or through applications normally alluded to as OTT platforms[45]. In particular, the television-watching scenario has been changed forever by the OTT video streaming platforms.

Some of the attractive features of OTT video streaming services are:

  • User accessibility towards a variety of national and international content at a faster rate and cheaper rate in comparison to the conventional mediums[46].
  • In order to keep up with the current trends and to ensure survival in the industry, the conventional television giants like Star and Viacom18, Zee TV, Sony have extended their existing means of providing entertainment and ensuring viewer engagement by using OTTs as a tool and by showcasing their own national and international digital content.
  • Independent artists and content creators are using several OTT platforms like- You tube, Instagram etc. to create quality and original content at a relatively lower budget and with negligible barriers of censorship as lay down by the CBFC.[47]


Factors contributing towards the infectious growth of OTT platforms in India are listed as follows:

  • Better internet access and connectivity and fall in data prices: With increasing competition in the telecom sector, industry giants like Airtel, Vodafone- Idea, Jio, etc are constantly improving their services along with providing attractive packages at competitive rates to its user this has resulted in internet access being provided at a significantly cheaper rate to telecom users. Access to affordable online services has led to a huge rise in data usage and added towards the user movement to the digital content available in India. Jio is deemed to be the one that has led the movement and has brought everyone to this new era of affordable internet. If statistics are to be believed, post the introduction of Jio in 2016 in Indian market the quarterly consumption of data increased approximately ten times. The company’s influence has made access to internet and the online content on OTT platforms relatively easy, effortless, straightforward affordable to everybody, this led to the creation a latent demand for digital consumption by the Indian users.[48]

The telecom services providers like Vodafone-Idea, Jio, Airtel, employ aggregator-based models i.e., they assemble content from various platforms and offer the same on a payment interface. This also provides access to a number of OTT platforms by itself in order to achieve an improvement in consumer retention and acquisition of new ones. For example, Jio offers an exclusive subscription of Disney Hotstar to its users on certain recharges; Airtel offers a one-year exclusive subscription to Amazon Prime Videos to its post-paid consumers, etc.[49]

  • Introduction and rise in Smartphone usage: With the introduction of smart-phones within the Indian economy and its availability to people belonging to varied economic backgrounds, online content consumption in India has dramatically risen. Though this rise was more of an international phenomenon, smart-phones now have become an important part of every individual’s life. As of now, there are approximately four billion smart-phones across the world, of which the Indian market accounts for over 450 million.[50]
  • Favourable Demographics: India is witnessing noticeable changes in income distribution patterns with a rise in the ‘elite’ economic class. This along with availability of Internet in rural areas and with the youngest population in the world (75%) belong to the age group of less than 35 years[51],India has proven to be a potential market contributing to the growth of OTT platforms. These factors combined with growing telecom connectivity, along with improved networks, stronger internet access, with multimedia service supporting mobile handsets with application development systems have all together led to a steep rise in online content consumption.
  • Significant growth in supply of high-quality content: Apart from the factors mentioned above the major reason behind the immense success and preference of OTT platforms in the country is the fact the give their paramount attention towards delivery of quality content. OTT platforms when initially entered the Indian market it started playing catch-up with the television shows. The penetration of Indian market by foreign competitors such as Netflix and Amazon Prime Video, which with them brought a variety of rich and original content, pushed further for the established Indian platforms to go beyond than just catchup, with syndicated and licensed content. India is an extremely diverse market and a one-size-fits-all approach would lead to inevitable failure for companies. Previously, YouTube has set a trend for Indians to watch online content. The role of personalized community content was recognized by foreign OTT providers such as Netflix and Amazon Prime.[52] Therefore, to remain on the Indian market and compete with local players including Hotstar and Voot, who have access to the huge regional and domestic content library of their respective parent companies, the foreign OTT players created their own original and unique local content such as Mirzapur, Sacred games, Inside Edge etc to attract the Indian viewers. A large variety and selection option of material offered was successful in drawing a significant number of users around the nation with differing backgrounds and preferences. Seeing this, nearly all of India’s major and popular broadcasters have introduced their own OTT platforms, e.g., Hotstar, Voot, Zee5, Sony Liv, etc and started producing original contents for their own platforms. Also, these networks brought their vast collections of television content online, augmented by additional content by licenses and originals.[53]These established broadcasters in India benefits from a powerful brand identity and audience recognition powered by their large collection of television content.

In response, the international OTT platforms like Netflix, Amazon Prime have expanded their services into India in the past few years and are significantly increasing their reach in terms of their user base. While some OTT companies are operating effectively in the local area, other global players are taking steps to invest in local content including, Netflix which is planning to release a minimum of ten original shows along with movies in India on an annual basis.[54] Given its diversity in content, there is also a heavy demand for regional content in the country. OTT platformers have tapped into this aspect and have introduced shows and content to meet this demand and provide compelling content to their audience.

It is important to see here that the year 2020 proved to be a landmark success for the OTT industry. As the pandemic led to a worldwide shutdown, and theatres were also non-operational due to this move. In order for the entertainment industry to survive, they shifted their focus to OTT platforms, to avoid financially. Many big production houses and big-name celebrity took a huge risk by releasing their movies straight to OTT platforms like-Atrangi re and garnered huge audience response in return to the risk taken

The viewing patterns of audience has evolved significantly in the past few years. Short duration video content like reels which is easily accessible on smart-phones and social media platforms has been on a rise, followed by binge-watching shows by many OTT platforms being prevalent simultaneously. The Indian OTT market is expected to increase from $1.5 billion in 2021 to $4 billion in 2025 and further to $12.5 billion by 2030[55]. The said figures are expected to be achieved much earlier, seeing how long the pandemic has seen to go on.


It is pertinent to state that the present position of online content, seems to enjoy a state of not much legal or censorship hinderance, giving the online content creators, the freedom to use their creative liberties to the fullest. This is evident from web series like Tandav, Sacred Games, Mirzapur, Bombay Begums, Leila, and Lust Stories which may have in earlier circumstances, never would have found its way to either to the theatrical release or a television premiere in India.

However, it will also be wrong to state that the OTT platforms in India are totally administered or without any kind of censorship guidelines, only because earlier there was no dedicated regulatory framework which provided how the OTT content needs to be censored and the way such content shall be certified or lack of any guiding principles for the OTT platformer with regarding their content they create and publish. The earlier existing and especially the recently formulated laws by the government for the OTT industry lays down guidelines for the OTT platforms to proceed.

Although most of the platforms in the OTT market have concurred with the new Rules prescribed by the government, there is a strong expression of their displeasure for the reason that the OTT platformers or the industry as a whole should have had the freedom to finalise the details of the composition of the self-regulatory bodies overseeing them and its working for smoother administration. This disagreement has led to a division among the OTT platformer, which has resulted in setting up of two self-regulatory mechanisms which are mentioned below:

  • The Digital Publishers Content Grievances Council (DPCGC) that comprises of at least 10 OTT platforms which including Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, ALT Balaji, and MX Player under the Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI). The aims to lead and provide the viewers a redressal mechanism for their complaints while ensuring a balance is maintained between reasonable censorship and publishing of content by the creators in a free speech environment with no intervention from the government or any other ad-hoc regulatory authority.
  • The Indian Broadcasting and Digital Foundation (IBDF) comprises platforms like Disney + Hotstar, Zee5, Sony LIV, Voot, Sun NXT, Discovery+, and Jio TV. The body plan to pick up the task of handling all the matters related to the digital media industry.

There are many people who had come forward to criticize the new I.T. Rules set out by the government due to the state of confusion created by the same. However, it is to be noted that it is one of the first vigilant attempt by the government to provide this mammoth industry its own dedicated regulatory and legal framework.  It is clearly evident that the OTT market in India has just started to show its true potential over the last decade with the pandemic acting as a major boost for the industry. The newly framed legal mechanism is feared to act as a hiccup to the creative freedom and impose heavy censorship, taking away the freedom to expression unlike any other medium before it which led to its massive growth and popularity the audience. Despite, these concern the aspect of relief these laws bring onboard is the fact that these laws finally provide the OTT platforms a set of guidelines to fall back on and look up to in times of need. With the laws finally coming in the picture, the major OTT players have the opportunity to reinvent and present new content that is approachable to a larger audience providing the digital industry the chance to grow itself even more in the Indian markets.


[1] Yearly Performance Indicators of Indian Telecom Sector,” New Delhi: Department of Telecommunications, TRAI, 2018, available online at https://main.trai.gov.in/sites/default/files/YPIRReport04052018.pdf

[2] KanchanSamtani&KarishmaBhalla, “One Consumer, Many Interactions,” Mumbai, India: Boston Consulting Group, 2018

[3] RoshiSujata, SarkarSohag, DewanTanu, DharmaniChintan&PurohitShubham, “Impact of Over the Top (OTT).

[4] “Digital Media: Rise of On-Demand Content,” Deloitte, 2015

[5] Rajkhowa, “The Spectre of Censorship: Media Regulation, Political Anxiety and Public Contestations in India (2011–2013)

[6] Consultation Paper on Regulatory Framework for Over-The-Top (OTT) Communication Services,” Consultation Paper, New Delhi: Department of Telecommunications, TRAI, 2018

[7] TRAI Consultation Paper no. 2/2015, dated 27th March 2015 titled “Regulatory Framework for Over-the-top (OTT) services”.

[8] ITU Secretary General’s Report for the Fifth WTPF- 2013.

[9] TRAI Consultation Paper dated 12th November 2018 titled “Regulatory Framework for Over-the-top (OTT)
communication services.

[10] NET NEUTRALITY DoT Committee Report, May 2015

[11] European Commission, Proposal for a Directive of the European Parliament and of the Council Establishing the European Electronic Communications.

[12] TRAI Consultation Paper dated 12th November 2018 titled “Regulatory Framework for Over-the-top (OTT) communication services”.

[13] Clause 1 and 2, Draft Provision of Application Service and/or Content Through Internet (2017)

[14] TRAI Consultation Paper dated 12th November 2018 titled “Regulatory Framework for Over-the-top (OTT) communication services”.

[15] Yanich, D., Does ownership matter? Localism, content, and the Federal Communications Commission, Journal of Media Economics, 23(2), pp.51-67 (2010).

[16] Ebru T. B., Methodology for the Regulation of Over-the-top (OTT) Services: The Need of a Multidimensional Perspective, International Journal of Economics and Financial Issues, 8(1), 101-110. (2018)

[17] Ibid.

[18] Frank Pallotta, NBC Universal is getting in the streaming business, CNN Business (14th January, 2019).

[19] BBC to launch US online subscription service next year, The Guardian, International Edition (17th September, 2015

[20] Online Video Industry China Executive Summary, Asia Video Industry Association (2018)

[21] Congressional-Executive Commission on China, Annual Report (2018)

[22] Feng, L., Online video sharing: an alternative channel for film distribution; Copyright enforcement, Censorship, and Chinese independent cinema. Chinese Journal of Communication, 10(3), pp.279-294 (2017)

[23] Huang, H. and Yeh, Y.Y., Information from abroad: foreign media, selective exposure and political support in China, British Journal of Political Science, pp.1-26 (2017).

[24] Content Code for Over-The-Top, Video-On-Demand and Niche Services, Infocomm Media Development Authority of Singapore (2018) (Last accessed on 23rd August, 2021).

[25] Kelly N. G., Broadcasting Act to be updated amid challenges In Media scene.

[26] OTT content regulation across the globe: Will India follow suit?https://www.themobileindian.com/news/ott-content-regulation-across-the-globe-will-indiafollow-the-suit-34688

[27] Ibid

[28] Department of Communication and the Arts, Online content regulation, available at: https://www.communications.gov.au/policy/policy-listing/online-content-regulation

[29] Ibid

[30] Schedule 5, Part 5, Division 3, Section 60(1)(c)-(e), the BSA

[31] Schedule 7, Part 2, Division 1, Section 20, the BSA

[32] Australian Classification, Australia leading the way with Netflix on classification, 15 November 2019, available at: https://www.classification.gov.au/about-us/media-and-news/news/australialeading-way-netflix-classification

[33] Ibid

[34] The Broadcasting Content Complaints Council (BCCC) is the grievance redressal system established under the aegis of the IBF which gives binding decisions based on complaints against non-news broadcasted content.

[35] Malvika Gurung, 5 March 2020, Government Gives 100 Days to Netflix, Amazon & Other OTTs to Form Self-Regulation Rules, China Type Regulation in India?

[36] Online information from https://globalfreedomofexpression.columbia.edu/updates/2021/01/government-of-india-toregulate-ott-platforms/

[37] Ibid.

[38] PWC, ‘Video on Demand: Entertainment Re-imagined’ (2018).

[39] Ibid

[40] Ibid

[41] Burroughs BE, „Streaming Media: Audience and Industry Shifts in a Networked Society‟ Iowa Research Online (2015)

[42] Mohini Parghi, ‘Emergence Of OTT Market In India: Regulatory And Censorship Issues’

[43] 4 KPMG, ‘Media Ecosystem: The Walls Fall Down’ (2018)

[44] Ritu Bhavsar, ‘The Burgeoning Digital Media Consumption: A Challenge For Traditional Television And Advertising Industries –An Analysis’ (2018) Amity Journal of Media & Communication Studies.

[45] Áki Hardarson and others, „The Future of Television: The Impact of OTT on Video Production Around the World‟ (2016) Boston Consulting Group.

[46] MICA and Communication Crafts, „Indian OTT Platforms Report‟ (2019)

[47] Tejveer Singh Bhatia, ‘OTT Services: To Regulate, Or Not To Regulate, That Is The Question

[48] The Boston Consulting Group, ‘Entertainment Goes Online- A $5 BILLION OPPORTUNITY’ (2018).

[49] India’s Leading Provider Of Prepaid & Postpaid Mobile Services In India – Airtel.In’ (Airtel, 2020)

[50] The Boston Consulting Group, ‘Entertainment Goes Online- A $5 BILLION OPPORTUNITY’ (2018)

[51] Dentus Aegis network,’DIGITAL ADVERTISING IN INDIA’ (2020).

[52] Disha Rajkumar and others, “A Study On Mobile Usage And Data Penetration In India Using Predictive Analytics” (2017) International Journal of Latest Trends in Engineering and Technology

[53] PWC, ‘Video on Demand: Entertainment Re-imagined’ (2018)

[54] Sohini Mitter, ‘What India Watched On Netflix In 2019: The Most Popular Titles’ (2019).

[55] Report by RBSA Advisors. Source https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/business/indiabusiness/indias-video-ott-market-to-touch-12-5-bn-by-2030-report/articleshow/84517492.cms

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