According to reports, streaming giants Netflix, Amazon, and Disney engaged in a private discussion on Friday regarding potential legal actions and alternative approaches to postpone the implementation of India's newly introduced tobacco warning regulations. The likely reason is that these companies are concerned about the considerable task of editing millions of hours of their existing web content to comply with the new rules.
According to a report by Reuters, it was disclosed that executives from the three major global streaming companies, namely Netflix, Amazon, and Disney, along with Viacom18, which operates the JioCinema app, recently conducted a close-door meeting. During the meeting, Netflix said that the rules would hit customer experience and the likelihood of production houses blocking their content in India. The report cites two people familiar with the discussions as its sources.
Executives in India engaged in discussions to explore potential avenues for a legal challenge, based on the argument that the jurisdiction over streaming platforms lies with the Ministry of Information and Technology and the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, rather than the health ministry, according to one of the sources.
The recently introduced guidelines pose as the latest concern for streaming companies operating in India, which is a highly growing market.
On 31st May, the health ministry issued a directive mandating streaming platforms to incorporate static health warnings during smoking scenes within a three-month timeframe. Furthermore, the ministry requires a minimum of 50 seconds of anti-tobacco disclaimers, including both audio-visual elements, to be placed at the beginning and middle of each program.
Previously, under the law, all drinking and smoking scenes in movies in India’s theatres and on TV require mandatory health warnings. However, there were no specific regulations in place for streaming platforms in relation to such scenes.