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Playboy fears moral policing in India

Adult entertainment publisher Playboy, which sees India among its potential growth areas, fears that government restrictions on products deemed to have "immoral influence" in the country could be a roadblock for its business.

business Updated: Mar 29, 2009 18:28 IST

Adult entertainment publisher Playboy, which sees India among its potential growth areas, fears that government restrictions on products deemed to have "immoral influence" in the country could be a roadblock for its business.

"The governments of some countries, such as China and India, have sought to limit the influence of other cultures by restricting the distribution of products deemed to represent foreign or immoral influences," Playboy has said.

The government regulations on adult content could negatively affect the entity's business and financial conditions, New York Stock Exchange-listed Playboy Enterprises said in its annual report filing with the US market regulator Securities and Exchange Commission. Interestingly, New York Stock Exchange-listed Playboy Enterprises has identified India, along with China and Latin America, among target regions for its geographical expansion.

Besides its flagship magazine, Playboy distributes its programming and contents across the world on TV networks, websites, mobile platforms and radio.

"Regulation of adult content could prevent us from making our content available in various jurisdictions or otherwise have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition or results of operations," the company noted.

Playboy said in an investor presentation late last year that India has been identified as a key target region to expand its presence, along with China and Latin America. However, a number of global entities such as Fashion TV (FTV) and AXN, a TV channel transmitted by Sony Entertainment Television, have faced the wrath of moral policing in India in the past.

The government briefly banned FTV twice in the past for nudity in its content, while AXN was also banned for a week in January 2007 for airing a programme titled 'The World's Sexiest Advertisements'.

FTV was first banned in February 2002, but the decision was reversed in a week after the channel promised to adhere to the Indian sensibilities. In 2007, the Indian government again banned FTV for a period of two months beginning April 1, while taking exception to a programme titled 'Midnight Hot.'

The ban was lifted only after the channel agreed to adhere strictly with the local rules. FTV now transmits a separate India-focussed channel, FTV India, which contains no nudity, which is in sharp contrast to its global programming.

Way back in 2004, Hooters of America Inc, a restaurant chain known for its scantily-clad and cheerleader-style hostesses and present in over a dozen countries, had announced plans to open shop in India, but is yet to start operations here.

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