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No obscenity on TV, I&B tells cable guys

12-July-2004
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No obscenity on TV, I&B tells cable guys

The cable TV industry may be crying hoarse over the increased service tax, but the government wants it to forget the Budget blues and clean up its act. While memos are being sent to the Prime Minister and the finance minister on how TV viewers would have to bear the burden of the Budget proposals, officials in the information and broadcasting ministry are understood to have asked a section of the cable industry to remove obscenity from TV.

According to sources, cable networks have indicated to the ministry that they have control only over their local video channels, and none over the satellite channels. Ironically, the government has no legal teeth to rein in broadcasters.

Earlier, under the NDA rule, Sushma Swaraj, as the I&B minister, had set up a committee to monitor obscenity on TV. In a glaring case, French channel FTV was asked to change its India feed, in keeping with the programming codes of the Cable TV Act, at that point. Ravi Shankar Prasad, who took over as the I&B minister after Ms Swaraj, also took initiatives to convey the message of “clean TV”. Some music videos had come under attack because of obscenity, during his tenure.

However, when S Jaipal Reddy was appointed the I&B minister, he had said, “I’m a liberal”, when asked about his views on tackling obscenity on television. Mr Reddy had also told the media, in his first press conference after taking over as the I&B minister, that monitoring TV programmes was a society matter, more than a broadcasting issue. Family elders had a significant role to play here, the minister had said.

But, it appears that adult content and obscenity are areas of concern for the new government as well. It is learnt that the I&B ministry has asked cable operators to check obscenity for the sake of the new generation! Although according to the Cable TV Act, an operator can be imprisoned for up to seven years for violating the programme or ad codes, trials are very long-drawn, an insider said.

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