ETtech Evening Briefing on Mar. 5, 2021: SC says OTT rules lack teeth


Good evening,

Earlier today, while granting interim protection from arrest to Aparna Purohit, Amazon Prime Video‘s India head, the Supreme Court said the government’s new rules for social media and OTT platforms “lack teeth”. Purohit was earlier named in an FIR registered by the Uttar Pradesh police that claimed the web series ‘Tandav‘ “hurt religious sentiments”.

Elsewhere in today’s letter:

  • 💰 Blume Ventures raises Rs 350 crore
  • 🔊 Twitter rolls out Spaces on Android
  • 👩🏻‍💼 Women in power at PhonePe

Supreme Court says OTT rules are more like guidelines

The government’s
new rules on social media and OTT (over-the-top) platforms “lack teeth” and are more like guidelines as there’s no provision for prosecution, the Supreme Court said on Friday
as it protected Amazon Prime India’s Aparna Purohit from arrest in connection with multiple FIRs filed against her for the controversial ‘Tandav’ web series.

  • “We have seen the guidelines. They lack teeth. They have no mechanism to screen (content) or to punish or fine (violators),” Justice Ashok Bhushan observed.

This prompted
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta to hold out an assurance to the court that the government would bring in new draft rules on this.

Senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for Amazon Prime, said that the platform had deleted two scenes on the government’s instructions and would delete another two if asked to do so.

The new rules: Last week, the government notified
stricter rules for social media platforms, online news portals and streaming services. The new rules call for self-regulation by streaming services—also known as OTT platforms—but simultaneously tighten the government’s grip on free speech by forming a three-tier structure, the last of which gives it the power to block and censor content. OTT players earlier this week
voiced concerns over criminal proceedings under the new rules.

Blume Ventures’ secondary fund

Getty Images

Venture capital fund Blume Ventures has
raised Rs 350 crore for a new secondary fund it has launched with Avendus Capital. This vehicle is expected to invest in the fund’s large portfolio companies and continue to support them for a longer period.

What’s a secondary fund? In most venture capital and private equity funds, the limited partners (LPs) or investors put in their money for a fixed duration, usually around 10 years. Sometimes, these investors sell their stake in a fund to other investors in what is called a secondary transaction.

Why it matters: Although secondary structures are common as fund lives reach their natural limits, historically, buyers in such funds have been foreign institutional investors who specialise in taking risks of this nature. “The challenges of a pandemic year allowed for innovation onshore. Avendus also saw merit in the opportunity and built an exclusive product for its wealthy customers,” the VC firm said.

Tweet of the Day

ETtech Deals Digest

While a lot of companies were reported to be in talks to raise fresh funding, the week
witnessed smaller rounds compared to the previous week.

deals digestETtech

Twitter eyes Android users for Spaces

Twitter wants to make Spaces, its Clubhouse-like, audio-based feature,
popular among Android.

After testing it on iPhones, Twitter
rolled out its live audio chat feature to select Android users in India and around the world. Users can join Twitter Spaces conversations on their feed and also name their own Spaces (like Rooms on Clubhouse) to add context.

“Spaces on Android is available from this week. We want to get it out to as many Android users as possible. We will iterate in real time as the team is able to add new features. We want to have parity with both Android and iOS in the not-so-distant future,” said Dantley Davis, chief design officer at Twitter, in a conversation on Spaces.

Rival Clubhouse’s global user base
soared last month after Tesla’s Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk and Robinhood’ Vlad Tenev held a surprise discussion on the platform, but the app remains iOS-only for now.

PhonePe to have more women in leadership roles

phonepe

PhonePe is
looking at increasing female representation in leadership roles to 25% from the current 16% by December.

The digital payments company announced its diversity and inclusion charter, with the first phase focusing on gender, sexual orientation and people with disabilities, identifying specific actions in each of these areas.

Trickle-down equality: The company has taken on a numerical goal for gender at the senior level, where stronger representation at the top is easily visible and helps provide role models for the broader organisation. It has pledged to increase the participation of women in its two senior-most leadership positions—directors and vice presidents.

In December, Flipkart had
spun off its digital payment arm into a separate entity by partially divesting its stake in favour of parent Walmart. As part of the process, PhonePe raised primary capital of $700 million in Walmart-led funding at a valuation of $5.5 billion.

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