Anti-tobacco campaign: Streaming giants take up arms against India’s new rules

India’s anti-tobacco campaign has caused streaming behemoths Netflix, Amazon, and Disney to meet privately on Friday to explore a possible legal challenge and other measures to postpone India’s new cigarette warning guidelines, amid fears of having to modify millions of hours of old web content

The backlash is the latest difficulty for streaming behemoths in India, a fast-growing market. Companies frequently face legal action and police complaints because their content occasionally offends religious sensibilities, and many have self-censored content throughout the years.

As part of India’s anti-tobacco campaign, the health ministry this week directed streaming providers such as Netflix, Amazon, and Disney etc to include static health warnings during smoking sequences within three months. Additionally, India requires at least 50 seconds of anti-tobacco disclaimers, including an audio-visual, at the beginning and halfway of each programme.

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Executives from the Netflix, Amazon, and Disney, as well as India’s Viacom18, which runs billionaire Mukesh Ambani’s JioCinema app, held a closed-door meeting where Netflix to discuss about the new anti-tobacco campaign, said the rules would harm customer experience and force production houses to block their content in India.

Anti-tobacco campaign
credit: reuters

Executives in India also talked about potential legal strategies to argue that the IT and information & broadcasting ministries, rather than the health ministry, have control over streaming companies.

Health warnings are already required by law for all movie smoking and alcohol use scenes shown in theatres and on television in India, but there are currently no rules governing the streaming giants, whose programming is becoming more and more popular.

The anti-tobacco campaign will put anti-tobacco warnings into the smoking scenes and tobacco consumption scenes of the movies and shows being streamed in India.

Activists have applauded new anti-tobacco regulations under anti-tobacco campaign enacted by India, the world’s second largest producer of tobacco, which kills 1.3 million people in the country each year. India has strict cigarette pack warning regulations as well.

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Nivedita Bangari
Nivedita Bangari
I am a software engineer by profession and technology is my love, learning and playing with new technologies is my passion.

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