October 17, 2019
With India and its second-largest population in the world, Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and Disney have aggressively sought an over-the-top video presence in the nascent market.
The influx of foreign SVOD services has reportedly prompted some government officials to ask for increased monitoring of content on the platforms — above existing regulations.
Reuters reports that public complaints about alleged obscenity or religious slights included in foreign streamed programming has some Indian lawmakers considering content censorship.
“The self-regulation isn’t the same for all, which is raising a concern … the directions are clear, we have to see how to address the problems,” an unidentified government official told the news agency.
Indeed, Netflix and Disney-owned Hotstar agreed to sign a self-regulation of content code, while Amazon did not.
Netflix’s popular original series “Sacred Games,” about an Indian cop rooting out corruption and violence, has reportedly faced unsuccessful legal challenges regarding alleged offensive scenes and negative comments about Hindus and a former Prime Minister.
Other complaints have revolved around the lack of mandatory anti-smoking messages on Bollywood content streaming Netflix and Prime Video.
“With [censorship] regulation, all of the [global] content will need to be sanitized for India — a huge, expensive and time-consuming exercise,” global tech analyst Prasanto Roy told Reuters.
“Sacred Games,” now in its second season, has been an international hit for Netflix, including translation in 20 languages.
“We’ve been producing shows that are incredibly relevant in their home territories, and the nice windfall is that they get viewed all over the world,” Netflix CCO Ted Sarandos said March. “It’s really accelerating the brand perception of Netflix as … someone who’s producing content that you care about in every part of the world.”