• April 17, 2024

Streaming Sites Protest India’s Health Warnings

 Streaming Sites Protest India’s Health Warnings

Image: Tada Images | Adobe Stock

Image: Tada Images | Adobe Stock

Streaming sites including Amazon, Netflix and Disney are pushing back against India’s tobacco warning rules, stating that they are impossible to implement on streaming sites and that they will impinge on content creators’ freedom of expression, reports Reuters

India’s health ministry ordered streaming platforms to insert static health warnings during smoking scenes and at least 50 seconds of anti-tobacco disclaimers, including audio-visual, at the start and middle of each program.

According to Reuters, Amazon, Netflix, Disney and Indian streaming platform JioCinema had a discussion on options to push back against the measure, including a legal challenge, as the companies worried that the tobacco rules would require editing millions of hours of Indian and Hollywood content.

In a letter to the Indian government, the Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) makes clear that because the multilingual content on streaming platforms “is very high … there is a practical impossibility associated with including such warnings across content.”

The IAMAI asked the health ministry to revisit the “onerous” rules. Content descriptors—a label saying “smoking” alongside the title—were more effective, according to the IAMAI. “Disruptions” caused by the new rules are “problematic for creators that put in considerable investments,” according to the group.

Activists welcomed the new rules, saying they would discourage smoking. Cinema and TV require health warnings for smoking and alcohol, but streaming services do not have the same regulations.

Digital platforms should be no different from cinema and TV in terms of health warnings, according to Sanjay Seth from the Sambandh Health Foundation. “They must implement this. It will save lives.”