Thursday, August 30, 2012


Television censorship is needed urgently

As a measure of policy upshot to censor nonnews television programs, the Broadcasting Content Complaints Council (BCCC) that was formed in June last year, is already over the edge, with heaps of complaints pouring in against the free fall of moral content (that includes obscenity and violence) of the small screen programs. Within 6 months of its inception, BCCC received 3441 complaints, and between June 20, 2011 and July 02, 2012, 717 separate complaints were lodged with the new regulatory body. In this latter period, 47 per cent of the complaints were against obscenity and nudity and 16 per cent were against portrayal of violence, especially against women. The BCCC, in its turn have decided to use its armory against 479 complaints that it has taken seriously and has decided to act.

The real focus of the complaints are not merely the content but also the holistic impact that it will bear on the viewers' minds, especially on the children, if the objectionable content is not aired during restricted hours. A frenzy of television programs depicting crime against women and their victimisation, along with obscenity, forms the core domain for the scope of BCCC censorship. The women issue is also taken up by National Commission of Women (NCW) in concert with BCCC who are in talks with TV channels regarding its editing.

Apart from BCCC, the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) is another body that is on a crusade to stop the re-certifying A rated films to be aired by TV channels. They have set the tone in compliance with the 1952 Cinematograph Act, which is waiting to be ratified by the Parliament. It has set the stage for stonewalling business prospect for a number of production houses that depends on a large extent of its return on investment on selling satellite rights to the television channels.

It is anybody’s guess as to why regulatory bodies like BCCC are not steering their swipes at the TV channels by compulsorily introducing program ratings or labels! In fact one should go to the extent of labeling each episode of the TV programs – which will give clear indication for the discretion of the viewers and for the kids – instead of hitting the broadcasters’ punching bag now and again. In most of the developed countries, TV programmes and films shown are categorically rated, so that the viewers are discreetly informed about the type of the program or movie they would be watching. In Australia for example, the television classification tags are well laid down (like MA15+ ratings means it can be shown between 9:00 pm and 5:00 am and AV15+ signifies content of violence in the film). Otherwise there are many ratings; one signifies for pre-schooling, another for children in general while some labelling are meant for 15 years plus category. US too have specific classifications of TV programs laid down its regulatory body.

The fact that the most liberal countries in the world, too, have television censorship only highlights the need to regulate programs which have telling effect on all segments of viewers and the producers of the programs and movies are not idolisers to be trusted upon. Even the advertisements should be regulated as it adroitly influences us all, especially the children. It is also important to set up state level censorship bodies as well as district level advisory committees that can get a better grip of increasingly localised television channels mushrooming in various regional languages.


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