Compliance for Streaming Platforms: Is Self-Regulation the Way Forward?
For the Media & Entertainment (M&E) industry, compliance has evolved a lot in the past few years. While censorship and compliance regulations for linear TV and cinema go back a long way, digital content has comparatively been subjected to minimal regulation. In fact in most countries, the internet has been a free space for uncensored entertainment.
But as streaming platforms rapidly gain popularity across the globe, things are set to change. There are growing concerns about protecting consumer interests and ensuring that content which could hurt people’s sentiments does not make its way to their screens.
In this endeavor, several streaming giants in India, including Netflix, Hotstar, Voot, Zee5, Arre, SonyLIV, ALT Balaji and Eros Now signed a self-regulatory code. Compiled by the Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI), this code makes these service providers responsible for ensuring that they do not show any content that’s banned by Indian courts, disrespects the national emblem and flag, outrages religious sentiments, promotes terrorism/violence against the state or shows children in sexual acts. The signing of this code ushers in a new chapter in the history of broadcast compliance, where service providers take complete responsibility for the kind of content they deliver to viewers, with respect to the target country’s regulations.
Countries that have cracked down on streaming platforms to ban specific kinds of content include China, which prohibited the streaming of LGBTQ related content in 2017. And that’s not all. On the very first day of 2019, Netflix removed an episode of comedian Hasan Minhaj's show ‘The Patriot Act’ on the request of the Saudi Government. Netflix also removed three episodes of different shows in Singapore that allegedly violated a law against positive portrayal of drug use. Interestingly, all these episodes remain available to Netflix subscribers elsewhere in the world. For streaming service providers, this means they have to maintain multiple geo-specific versions of the same pieces of content. All versions will be stored on the platform, and displayed based on where the consumer is.
Given these latest developments, its little wonder that OTT providers are now turning towards smart solutions for compliance editing and cataloguing. Cloud-based solutions like Media ERP offer industry first technology to help Media & Entertainment (M&E) enterprises enhance operational efficiencies in this arena. Such solutions enable users to identify all content considered objectionable in different geographies at one go, eliminating the need to review the same asset multiple times. Powered by AI-led technology, Media ERP can help swiftly identify objectionable visual content (like nudity, violence, smoking, drug abuse etc.) as well as swear words and profanities.
The solution also enables certain edit actions (like cuts, audio mute/beep, disclaimer/aston bands and subtitling mask) to be automatically coded into the video, while others (like shot replacement, blurring, and cropping) can swiftly be performed by an editor by following edit suggestions generated by the software. Such solutions assist Compliance experts in a big way, helping reduce effort and operational costs significantly, while providing scalability to handle peaks in volume.
As the global surge in OTT viewership continues to grow exponentially, the need to adopt a smart approach towards compliance editing and cataloguing will only increase. Thankfully, advances in automation technology can help effectively solve the biggest pain points experienced in this space.
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