New code puts TV channels on leash | delhi | Hindustan Times
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New code puts TV channels on leash

The new content code draft for TV, FM radio and community radio imposes restrictions on depicting themes like crime, horror and occult. Chetan Chauhan tells more.

delhi Updated: Jun 01, 2007 03:21 IST
Chetan Chauhan

The new content code draft for television, FM radio and community radio imposes many restrictions on depicting themes like crime, horror and occult.

It also prohibits criticism of friendly countries, insulting the Constitution or breaking Indian laws, adverse comment against the judicial process and aspersions on the integrity of the President or the judiciary.

Malicious distortion or demeaning the physical attributes or personal traits of a national leader or a state dignitary is also banned.

“In a sense, jokes on national leaders will not be allowed on television,” a TV channel representative said.

Crime and violence has been dealt in detail. But much on the theme has been left to individual judgment. For instance, crime cannot be glamorised or be shown as an acceptable solution to human conflict.

It cannot also serve as an opportunity to copy the modus operandi of criminals. Similarly superstition, horror or occult cannot be promoted.

The code also explains in detail, for the first time, sex, obscenity and nudity. Total nudity, kissing and sexual acts are banned. Semi-nudity can be shown during the Adult television hours between 11 pm to 4 am Programmes that focus on incest, homosexuality or other socially unacceptable practices or even showing limited smoking or drug abuse scenes also will be allowed during these timings.

A new category of Universally Adult timing has been introduced between 8 pm to 11 pm. The rest of the time is for universal viewing, when even double meaning dialogues, abusive and coarse language or even smoking scenes will be disallowed.

It bans mocking physically or mentally challenged persons, revealing the location of a person’s family without their permission or questioning minors about private affairs without their parents’ permission.

Intruding into privacy and defaming people or showing religion in a bad light has also been prohibited. The new code will eventually be part of the Broadcast Regulation law.

For the first time, the viewer has a three-tier forum to complain against the broadcaster. The first is a committee of self-regulation, called content auditor, to be set up by each broadcasting service provider.

Then there is a Consumer Complaint Committee at the industry segment level associations. This is followed by the independent regulator, appointed by the government.

The Information and Broadcasting Ministry has circulated the draft among the industry. A discussion on it was slated for Thursday, but it has been postponed for Friday at the industry’s request.

I&B minister PR Dasmunsi will discuss the code with industry representatives on June 8.