The Union Health Ministry made clear its stance on Saturday, asserting that there is absolutely no leniency or compromise on the OTT Rules 2023. These rules mandate online streaming platforms to include anti-tobacco warnings in their content.
False Media Claims: A recent media report suggested that the Union Government had come to a tenuous agreement with OTT platforms concerning the display of smoking warnings. According to this report, certain streaming platforms were given leeway to opt for less conspicuous warnings. The ministry, however, dismissed these claims as “false, misleading and based on misrepresented facts.” They emphasized that the media narrative did not capture the genuine dedication of the Union Government to enhance public health.
Inclusion of COTP Rules for OTT Platforms: Highlighting its commitment to public health, the government decided to expand the COTP (Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products) film rules to also encompass OTT platforms. Effective from September 1, 2023, the OTT Rules 2023 dictates that prominent streaming platforms, including Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Disney + Hotstar, Jio Cinema, Sony LIV, ALTBalaji, Voot, and others, should exhibit anti-tobacco health spots. Additionally, they must also feature anti-tobacco health warnings as a clear static message and an audio-visual disclaimer to educate viewers about the detrimental effects of tobacco use.
India’s Leadership in Tobacco Control: Various public health organizations and professionals have praised this move by the government. In the statement released, the ministry highlighted that, “By bringing OTT under the tobacco control rules, India has positioned itself at the forefront of global tobacco control measures.”
Warning for Non-compliance: The ministry reiterated that all OTT platforms must diligently adhere to the OTT Rules 2023, which were set into motion from September 1, 2023. They emphasized that there is zero tolerance for any breaches of these rules. The government will promptly take action against any platform found violating the regulations.
The Union Health Ministry remains unwavering in its commitment to safeguarding public health. By extending tobacco control rules to OTT platforms, they seek to leverage the influence of media to promote healthier lifestyles and reduce tobacco-related harm in society.