Ministry of Information & Broadcasting’s order to shift the telecast timings of ‘Bigg Boss’ on Colors and ‘Rakhi Ka Insaaf’ on Imagine to the 11 pm-5 am band, dubbing them as ‘adult’ content, has led to an interesting situation in the 9 pm band.
Earlier this week, Star Plus replaced its top delivering daily ‘Bidaai’ with a new property ‘Gulaal’ – the rating fate of which is yet to be seen. At around the same time, Zee TV launched a fresh campaign for its 9 pm show ‘Pavitra Rishta’. And now, the number two Hindi GEC, Colors, needs to revisit its scheduling plans given the order to push ‘Bigg Boss’ to a later slot.
The move can have various implications for both Colors and Imagine but for now, it is a wait and watch.
In its order dated November 16, 2010 to Colors, the MIB noted that ‘Bigg Boss Season 4’ was “not suitable for unrestricted public exhibition especially at prime time when a large number of children are watching television.” Therefore, the MIB directed Colors to shift the programme to anytime after 11 pm and modify the content in accordance with the Programme Code with effect from November 17, 2010. The channel has also been directed to run a scroll on the TV screen stating that the programme was not suitable for children.
It may be noted that Colors aired the ‘Bigg Boss Season 4’ episode on November 17, 2010 at 9 pm. When contacted, officials from Colors didn’t comment on the development stating that they hadn’t received the Ministry notice till then. Imagine officials, too, didn’t offer any comment on the issue.
For the record, Vodafone is the presenting sponsor for Season 4 of ‘Bigg Boss’.
Commenting on the change in timing, Ajit Varghese, MD, Maxus India, said, “We are going to wait and watch how this change in timing would impact the show. That said, today even the 11.00 pm slot is performing. We saw that when Star Plus moved one of its shows, ‘Sach ka Saamna’, to 11.00 pm, it delivered. Even right now Star Plus has a show on that slot, so we really have to see what happens because of this.”
Not very long ago, (2003-2007) Star Plus had seen unmatched success in its 11 pm band with ‘Kahiin to Hoga’. The show was in the top 10 shows on television at the time. The 11 pm slot became a slower deliverer when competition in the core primetime increased. Since then, the late time band has traditionally shown lower ratings than primetime. This was seen last year as well, when Star Plus had moved ‘Sach ka Saamna’ to 11 pm. At that time, STAR officials said, “We at Star India have taken note of the debate in certain sections of the society about ‘Sach Ka Saamna’. Given our commitment towards responsible broadcasting and our unique relationship with Indian families, we have decided to voluntarily and proactively move the telecast time to 11.00 pm from tomorrow onwards.”
Commenting on the time band, Nandini Dias, COO, Lodestar UM, noted that the 11 pm time band had lower ratings than the 9 pm time band and this would be a test for these shows, whether they could increase the viewership of the band.
An important point she made was that advertisers could lose out, as these channels would not be able to air repeats of these shows and even news channels would not be able to show excerpts of these shows. “Channels usually do not put such blockbuster shows in the 11 pm time band, and this can be a good experiment to see whether the primetime can be extended,” she said.
It may be noted that Star Plus is currently airing the show ‘Kaali’ in the 11 pm time band.
While this move show that the I&B Ministry is not taking the ‘adult’ content in TV programmes lightly, one wonders why no action was initiated in some other shows such as ‘Iss Jungle Se Mujhe Bachao’.
Varghese observed, “On a broad note, what content is on primetime and how sensitive it is to the younger audience is not something that I can pass any judgement on. But this kind of content was not bothering anyone for the last three years, why has it become an issue now? And why should only ‘Bigg Boss’ or ‘Rakhi ka Insaaf’ be post 11.00 pm? Many serials show explicit romance and other adult content visually or issue-based – shouldn’t that also go beyond 11.00 pm?”
The development has raised more questions than one but one thing that everyone would be watching out for is what would Colors be doing in its 9 pm now, and to ‘Bigg Boss’ to ensure that the ratings report card doesn’t suffer.