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OTT Streaming

IAMAI fumes over new anti-tobacco rules for OTTs

IAMAI has flagged 'fundamental concerns' and 'practical difficulties' in complying with new norms about anti-tobacco warnings on video streaming platforms.

The Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) is asking the government to renotify the latest anti-tobacco rules impacting video streaming platforms, this time after consulting the industry, as per an ET report.

The industry body, which also represents several major Indian startups and global tech giants, stated that implementing these anti-tobacco warnings norms across OTT platforms was practically impossible.

The amount of multilingual content on platforms “is very high … there is a practical impossibility associated with including such warnings across content,” the letter by the IAMAI stated, Reuters reported.

The publication added that the likes of Netflix, Amazon Prime and Disney (all of which are represented by IAMAI in India), along with JioCinema and Viacom18, were part of a private discussion last week to consider pushback options, including a legal challenge.

IAMAI has flagged “fundamental concerns” and “practical difficulties” in complying with new norms about anti-tobacco warnings on video streaming platforms.

On May 31, the health ministry notified amendments in the Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products Act, 2004, which mandate over-the-top (OTT) video streaming platforms to display anti-tobacco warnings and disclaimers on the lines of such warnings displayed in movies in theatres.

The IAMAI wrote to the health ministry that the new norms were announced without consulting the industry. The body has requested that the government revisit the 2023 Tobacco Warning Rules in consultation with OTT platforms "in the spirit of collaboration”.

Notably, the IAMAI has formed a self-regulatory body, the Digital Publishers Content Grievances Council (DPCGC), for video streaming platforms per rules issued by the information & broadcasting ministry.

The online video streaming industry has argued that enforcement of these rules will result in them having to edit thousands of hours of footage to add anti-tobacco warnings, which would take substantial time and money.

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