Increasing OTT content on “Army” themed series- a cause of concern for Ministry of Defence? – Eshwars
Call Us +91 44 42048335

Increasing OTT content on “Army” themed series- a cause of concern for Ministry of Defence?

Authored by Vishaka

In a recent development, triggered by the release of a web-series titled “XXX uncensored- Season 2” that was telecasted on an Over the Top (OTT) platform,  an advisory letter dated 27th July 2020 has been issued by the Secretary to the Ministry of Defence (“MOD”), to the regional officer of the Central Board of Film Certification (“CBFC”), raising concerns on how certain movies/web-series based on “Army” theme are causing disrepute to the Indian Army. A copy of the said letter was marked to the attention of Ministry of Electronics & Information Technology (“MeitY”) and Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (“MIB”) as well. The MOD has suggested in the letter to the CBFC to direct the producers of such web-series or movies to obtain a ‘No Objection Certificate’ from MOD before airing of such movie, series, documentary etc on the public domain.

At this juncture, it is relevant to look at the detailed guidelines issued by MOD on its website pertaining to submission of proposal to the MOD for seeking assistance in connection with making of film, serial, documentary etc. The following are the highlights of the guidelines as provided by the MOD:

1. Producer of any film, TV serials or documentary which is themed around Army or requires assistance of Army in the form of location, manpower or equipments shall preliminary be required to submit a proposal in the form of an affidavit along with details as per the format provided under the guidelines, including the script, tentative schedule, details of crew and type of requirement.

2. The guidelines also require the authorised signatory responsible for the production to given an undertaking as per the prescribed format.

3. Such a proposal shall be examined by the department considering all necessary factors including the reputation of the Army.

4. Once clearance is given by the Army, the producer shall deposit a certain amount of money in lieu of the assistance provided thereunder.

5. Further, producer needs to enter into an agreement with the ADG PI covering aspects of indemnity, insurance cover and refundable bank guarantee.

6. After completion of the film or the serial or documentary, the same shall undergo two tier preview before it is made available for public domain.

It is to be noted that the said guidelines of the MOD is a system of practice envisaged by the MOD, which indirectly is also aimed at avoiding any kind of disrepute to the Army and uphold the dignity of the officials.

The letter issued by MOD raises concerns relating to both the cinematograph films and web-series. It is to be noted that CBFC is statutorily empowered under the Cinematograph Act 1952 for regulation and sanctioning of contents of only cinematograph films and is not empowered to regulate any content that is broadcasted exclusively under OTT platforms. It is pertinent to note that regulation of OTT platforms fall under the purview of MeitY and MIB and hence, CBFC will not be entitled to undertake any actions as advised by the MOD in the said letter in respect of such web series broadcast in OTT platforms.

It is to be noted that as of today there are no regulations notified either by the MeitY or the MIB to regulate the contents being broadcasted under OTT platforms. The contents and standards of the contents being broadcast on such OTT platforms in India are all primarily self-regulated by owners and operators of such OTT platform. It would definitely be interesting to see if the MeitY or MIB take the initiative and requisite steps in order to have certain statutory guidelines and regulations in place in order to regulate the OTT platforms and its contents considering the sudden rise in the viewership of such content over the OTT platforms.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Eshwars | House Of Corporate & IPR Laws,
Chennai | Delhi | Bengaluru | Mumbai | New Jersey

Board: +91 - 44 - 42048335
+91 - 44 - 42048235