After running on Indian television for less than a year, Comedy Central’s hit show South Park was abruptly taken off air about 45 days ago. No news was made of this.
Coincidentally, the 200th episode of the show, whose highly controversial content reportedly received much flak from religious groups in the US, was also brought under the scanner around the same time, end of April.
The question that now crops up is whether the Indian telecast was pulled off air to wipe out even remote chances of a controversy, following the 200th episode. The show that was aired in the US over a month ago and was available on YouTube showed five religious figures in unacceptable avatars. For instance, it showed the Buddha snorting drugs.
However, on being asked, Ferzad Palia, head of VH1, which is where the Indian censored and highly beeped version of South Park used to be aired, denied any such connection and called it purely coincidental. “The show was pulled off air about 45 days ago, but I don’t think there is any connection with the 200th episode. It was the current content that they found offensive. I doubt it was a potential move for future content.”
Even though Palia insists that the I&B Ministry asked for the show to be taken off air because they objected to the current content, no one knows why it happened almost a year later. “The shows that were aired on Indian television were very carefully edited and we took absolute care since we were adhering to the guidelines most carefully. I can’t say whether it will return as yet, but for the time being it is off.”
Meanwhile, internationally, South Park, infamous for its controversial content, was actually forced to heavily censor the show’s content. According to news reports, the creators of the show, Trey Parker And Matt Stone, received death threats from a US-based group called Revolution Muslim soon after the show was aired.
Parker and Stone issued a public statement soon after saying: “In the 14 years we’ve been doing South Park we have never done a show that we couldn’t stand behind. We delivered our version of the show to Comedy Central, and they made a determination to alter the episode. We’ll be back next week with a whole new show about something completely different, and we’ll see what happens to it.”