OTT acronym stands for Over the Top. It means providing films and television content through the internet and over the internet rather than cable connection or satellite provider.
OTT only requires an internet connection and a compatible hardware device to work. Such as;
- Mobile OTT Devices: Smartphones or tablets
- Personal Computers: Desktop based apps or web browser
- Smart TVs: Playstation, amazon fire stick, etc
Recently, OTT has gained a lot of audiences that normal cable channels also shifted to OTT platforms to keep up with the trend. Such as Zee5. To get the latest news about law than just visit: “Law Planet”
Growth of OTT During Covid
Covid 19 pandemic led to house lock situations worldwide and shut down every business in the world. People have left nothing but just to sit at home and watch television or do household work. As the television and film industry was also on lockdown, no fresh episodes were getting telecasted. To get rid of their boredom people shifted to OTT platforms from television. Pandemic boosted the consumption of OTT platforms worldwide. OTT platform also provides on-demand videos, its consumption was increased between women and younger audiences during the lockdown.
A study shows that India has played a significant role in the growth of OTT platforms as the internet is cheap in India and every second person has a smartphone.
Factors Which Led To Growth of OTT
Increased use of the internet: Pandemic has increased the use of the internet worldwide. Demand is so high that companies aim to provide high-speed internet connectivity even to remote areas. Pandemic made the government realize the importance of high-speed internet connections. It has the capability to become a greater source of income in the future. 5G is the most awaited new program which provides high-speed connection, it is the latest technology.
Smartphones: In recent times smartphones are available to every second person in the world. It has been proved that now people prefer to watch something on their phones rather than on a TV as smartphones are more convenient and do not restrict you to sit in one place. Keeping this in mind all OTT platforms are compatible with smartphones. To know about the “Harvey V Facey Case”.
Convenience: Convenience has played an important role in the growth of OTT platforms. OTT platforms can be viewed at any time at any place, they do not restrict your movement. They also provide live content which was, previously, only possible on Television or radio.
Customization: It provides localized content, different genres. Before becoming famous content was provided only in English which was not able to attract the local market. Later, companies started to provide local content, for example, Amazon provides content in and of different languages which helped them to gain a local audience. In the past few years, Netflix has also started to stream Hindi shows. Innovative Prices” Monthly or yearly subscription options have been adopted by many OTT platforms to attract customers. Amazon Prime Video is the cheapest platform in India.
Laws in India: Prior to the 2020 amendment there were no rules or statutes governing over-the-top platforms. A notification was issued on November 9, 2002, by the central government in which they bought digital/online media/OTT platforms under the ambit of the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (MIB). By the notification, Government of India (Allocation of Business) Rules, 1961 have been amended. They added the title Digital/Online Media in the second schedule with two subentries: 1. Films and audio-visual programs made available by online content providers; and 2. News and current affairs content on online platforms.
Section 69A of the Information and technology act, 2000 provides the central government the power to issue directions to block public access to any information online. Section 67A, 67B, and 67C of the IT act provides penalties and punishments for the transmission of obscene material online.
The IT (Intermediary Guidelines) Rules, 2011 provides a framework that needs to be observed by intermediaries in respect of information published on any computer source of the intermediaries. Over the Top platforms also fall under this category of intermediaries hence the guidelines will be applicable on the also.
Indian Penal Code, 1860 (IPC) also regulates OTT platforms. Section 295A criminalizes deliberate and malicious acts intended to outrage religious feelings. Section 499 and 500 criminalizes defamatory content over the internet. Section 354 punishes anyone who insults any woman’s modesty. Section
Challenges to OTT platforms
- OTT platforms are the biggest threat and competition to Telecom Service Providers (TSPs). OTT platforms do not have to adhere or follow different rules and regulations as compared to TSP. The following are the area of regulations required in Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) Act, 1997
- Licensing: TSPs need to get different licenses and bear costs attached to them whereas OTTs do not have to get any license.
- Spectrum Allotment and Use: TSPs need to adhere to the rules and bear costs whereas OTT do not have to bear any costs.
- Spectrum and Space Related Charges: TSPs need to bear the cost whereas OTT does not have to bear.
- Maintaining Records: TSPs are required to maintain records. OTT is not directly obligated but through other acts.
- Quality of Service Parameters: TSPs are required to adhere to the parameters as part of the regulatory regime whereas OTT does not need to fulfil such requirements.
- Interconnection: TSPs require interconnections and also bear the costs along with it. OTT does not require any such connections.
- Infrastructure Sharing: TSPs need to bear the cost for sharing whereas OTT does not share infrastructure.
- Obligations Under Various Telegraph Acts: TSPs need to adhere to the rules. OTTs are not required to adhere.
- Security Conditions: TSPs need to follow conditions whereas OTT does not have to follow such requirements.
- Monitoring Services: TSPs need to be monitored as a license condition whereas OTT do not need to be monitored as they do not need a license to operate.
OTT platforms are the new trend, there has been an apparent shift from cable to OTT platforms. It boosted during the pandemic to the extent that it needs to be regulated now. Many countries other than India have laws to regulate OTT platforms such as:
- In The United Kingdom they adopted the EU Electronic Communications Code (ECCC) in 2020.
- In Singapore Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) directly regulates OTT platforms. A few other countries have also laid down laws to regulate OTT platforms.