In a sudden move, the President in exercise of its powers under Article 77 of the Constitution amended Government of India (Allocation of Business) Rules, 1961 has included within the ambit of the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting the following entries:
“VA. DIGITAL/ONLINE MEDIA
22A. Films and Audio-Visual programmes made available by online content providers.
22B. News and current affairs content on online platforms.”.
Read Notification: here.
This gives the I&B Ministry the power to bring in regulation / legislation to regulate online curated content and news and current affairs on online platforms. This would pave way for bringing in regulations in future such as amendment of Cinematograph Act.
Article 77 of the Constitution provides:
- Conduct of business of the Government of India
(1) All executive action of the Government of India shall be expressed to be taken in the name of the President
(2) Orders and other instruments made and executed in the name of the President shall be authenticated in such manner as may be specified in rules to be made by the President, and the validity of an order or instrument which is so authenticated shall nor be called in question on the ground that it is not an order or instrument made or executed by the President
(3) The President shall make rules for the more convenient transaction of the business of the Government of India, and for the allocation among Ministers of the said business”
It is unclear whether the move is for regulating of only online curated content such as for platforms like Netflix, Amazon, Hotstar, etc or also for platforms such as YouTube, User generated platforms, etc.
The move seems to be coming in light of multiple litigations before various high courts and Supreme Court demanding regulation of content on OTT Platforms and the Government’s discontent with the self regulation code created by the Online Curated Content Platforms. The stand taken by the I&B Ministry in all these cases has been that it does not have the power to regulate content on OTT Platforms.
Last month in the PIL filed by Shashank Jha before the Supreme Court, a bench comprising Chief Justice S A Bobde and Justices A S Bopanna and V Ramasubramanian issued notices to the central government, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting and Internet and Mobile Association of India.
Image source: here