Report: India Considering Censorship of Netflix, Amazon, Disney Streaming Video Content

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.

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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.”

 

Netflix Applies for License to Continue Operating in Turkey as Erdogan Government Cracks Down on Media

With President Tayyip Erdogan’s hardline Turkish government eyeing greater oversight on the media, Netflix has reportedly applied for a new license to continuing streaming content to about 200,000 subscribers.

RTUK, the country’s media regulatory agency, was recently granted greater authority over the country’s radio, television and online content — a move some critics contend could turn to censorship, according to Reuters.

Netflix’s license application was first disclosed by RTUK President Ebubekir Sahin in a post on Twitter. Sahin said more than 600 media entities operating in the country — including local streaming services Puhu TV and Blu TV — had applied for licenses.

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In addition to the license, media operators must adhere to RTUK content standards, which haven’t been disclosed. Failure to adhere to the guidelines after 30 days could result in license suspension or cancelation.

Erdogan, who is facing corruption charges and greater voter backlash, holds executive powers to issue executive decrees, appoint judges and heads of state institutions — including the media.

Parent Group Calls on Congress to Pass ‘Family Movie Act Clarification Act’ as Christmas Gift

The Parents Television Group, the longstanding censorship advocacy group founded by Christian conservatives, Dec. 5 called upon House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to pass the “Family Movie Act Clarification Act of 2018” (H.R. 6816) before lawmakers break for the winter holidays Dec. 14.

The bill seeks to amend the “Family Entertainment and Copyright Act,” which included the “Family Home Movie Act of 2005,” enabling third-party software to edit playback of Hollywood movie DVDs containing up to 14 different categories of objectionable content.

The amended resolution seeks to include technology capable of editing streaming services such as Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and Hulu.

“With the quickly approaching end of … this session of Congress, we call on our elected leaders in Washington immediately to pass the Family Movie Act Clarification Act and present it to the President [Trump] for his signature, thereby providing an important and urgently-needed Christmas present for parents and for families,” Tim Winter, president of PTC, said in a statement.

In 2016, studios won a court decision against VidAngel, a company selling software enabling users to filter out language, nudity, violence, and other mature content from movies and TV series. The studios said the software was a form of copyright infringement.

The PTC claims 30 pro-family groups support the new bill, including Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, Dr. James Dobson of Family Talk, Bishop Harry Jackson of ICC Churches, and Ted Baehr of Movieguide.

Winter questions studios’ motives for fighting home entertainment editing software, claiming doing so deprives the industry much-needed sales of packaged media and digital content.

“The legislation is a no-brainer,” said Winter. “It simply brings the Family Movie Act – which allows families to filter explicit content from DVDs – onto contemporary streaming media platforms used by most Americans today. The pending legislation is consistent with, and perfectly honors, the congressional intent expressed when the original measure became law in 2005.”