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Draft policy on OTT platforms submitted to HC

Published : 13 Jun 2022 10:18 PM | Updated : 14 Jun 2022 02:06 PM

The draft of a policy on prevention of obscenity, revenue collection, supervision and control over unethical-offensive video content on various web platforms based on Over the Top (OTT) has been submitted to the High Court.

The Information and Broadcasting Ministry and the Bangladesh Telecommunications Regulatory Commission (BTRC) submitted two separate drafts to the High Court bench of Justice JBM Hasan and Justice Rajik Al Jalil on Monday (June 13). 

After receiving two separate draft policies, the higher court, however, directed the government to submit a progress report on the final policy on the OTT platforms like Hoichoi, Chorki, and Bongo BD. The BTRC has been asked to submit the report before the court within the next three months in this regard.

The HC bench also fixed October 19 for delivering its next order over the matter.

Earlier on January 21 this year, the High Court had directed the government to take necessary steps to prevent obscenity from online OTT platforms, ensure revenue collection and formulate a final policy to control these platforms.

The higher court asked the authorities concerned to submit a progress report on the steps taken so far for the guideline to the court on May 26. As per the order, the respondents submitted draft policies before the HC bench on Monday.

The High Court had issued the order following a writ petition. Lawyer Mohammad Tanvir Ahmed filed the writ petition. The lawyer on Monday appeared on behalf of the writ petition, while Deputy Attorney General Tushar Kanti Roy represented the state.

The BTRC formed a committee on September 7 in 2021 to formulate policies in this regard. Later, the High Court directed the authorities to formulate the draft policy.

According to the BTRC report, no revenue is collected from the OTT platforms as there is no regulation. The international OTT platforms do not have a BTRC licence. However, BTRC has no legal jurisdiction over the international OTT platforms.

Similarly, the information ministry report says that although there are digital security laws and pornography laws, there is no a specific policy to prevent pornography from such kind of platforms. 

As a result, it is not always possible to take legal action. For this reason, if there is such a policy, it will be convenient to control such platforms. Considering these issues, the court has directed to submit a report with a draft policy.

On September 8 in 2020, the High Court issued a rule asking the authorities concerned why inaction in removing parts of the immoral, disgraceful and outlawed video of the web series spread through the internet (OTT platforms) including Netflix and Heechee would not be declared illegal.

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