Latin American singer Shakira or a recent Tom Cruise-starrer and even the Dustin Hoffman classic Rain Man, like many other foreign films and music videos, may be off the small screen this festival season because of slow processing of certification by the Censor Board.
In August, the Mumbai High Court had directed Information ministry that no adult content should be shown on television. Only those films, promos, music videos or programmes certified by the Censor Board as U or U/A should be screened. Adult content can be beamed only after modification according to Censor Board directives. The ministry later issued a notification under the Cinematograph Act, banning adult content on television.
In September, a number of foreign channels like the Star Movies, HBO, Sony Pix, Hallmark, MTV, Channel V and VH1 sought re-certification of their programmes. “It is a problem. We have to re-certify our archive of 5,000 songs,” a music television channel official said. The only exception is the Zee Network. Most of its film and music videos are re-certified for airing on television by the Censor Board. Cable operators in Mumbai have stopped beaming Star Movies and HBO because none of their films has been re-certified by the Censor Board.
The sudden rush has caused a huge backlog of films and other programmes for “re-certification”. “The board certifies nearly 2,500 films a year and now has applications for more than 1,000 programmes a month,” N.P. Nawani, chairman of India Brand Equity Foundation (IBEF) said.
An IBEF delegation led by Nawani met I&B secretary S.K. Arora on Wednesday to discuss the issue. “We have assured them that the Censor Board will put a system in place for the quick disposal of applications for re-certification of films,” a senior ministry official said.
On Thursday, the ministry directed the Censor Board to allow re-certification of foreign content in its nine regional centres as films were so long being re-certified at the Mumbai CBFC headquarters. “We will also provide additional money to the board if they want to upgrade infrastructure,” the official said.
Echoing the concerns of the industry, Nawani, a former I&B secretary, said the Censor Board should improve infrastructure and re-certify programmes a month before the telecast.