It was a bit of rude shock for many Sony Entertainment Television viewers, when the channel was running a ticker ‘For unavoidable reasons we regret to inform that the film 'The Dirty Picture' will not be telecast today. Any inconvenience caused is deeply regretted’ informing that the much anticipated television premier of the move was interrupted for some reason. Sony was to air the movie twice – at noon and at 8 pm on April 22, 2012.
Broadcasters in India have become conscious of the content that goes on-air, especially after the broadcasting industry got together to observe self-regulation for genres such as Hindi general entertainment. Needless to say, Sony knew that The Dirty Picture was not in sync with the guidelines that the Indian Broadcasting Foundation (IBF) observes through the Broadcasting Content Complaints Council (BCCC) in context to the kind of content that can be aired on TV and the channel worked to address the obvious problem at hand.
According to reports and industry officials, the movie had observed 59 cuts to make it suitable for television viewing and had procured the required license after that. The process has been on for the last two months now. Perhaps the Information & Broadcasting Ministry (MIB) was still not convinced about the movie but why wait for the last minute and not give the channel any time to work out a solution.
For Sony, the problem would need immediate attention given the commitment to advertisers. Sony had charged some of its highest rates for advertising on the movie. The MIB has directed the movie to be aired after 11 pm but industry analysts believe that this will affect the TV rating of the movie. A media planner said, “If the timing of the movie is changed, then some advertisers may want to relook whether they want to be present on the movie or not. And this could in turn make them reopen their deals with Sony.”
I am more interested in the role that the BCCC or the IBF will play in this, if at all. Channels are adhering to BCCC’s guidelines but what happens in cases, where there is confusion such as this. As far as the channel is concerned, it has observed what was required of it. But it still needs to connect with the MIB to find a solution for this predicament, or else like most MIB-Broadcaster issues of this nature, this too will end up in a court. Will the IBF be involved in the conversation too?
As an industry body, will the IBF or the BCCC have any role in this situation? It would have had Sony not followed the censor required and would have advised Sony against airing the movie. But when the situation is altered, then what is the role that the BCCC will play.