Friday, July 24, 2009

Do we need a broadcast code?

By: Subhadeep Bhattacharjee

Information & Broadcasting Ministry recently issued a show-cause notice to Star Plus for its latest reality show Sach ka Saamna. This after there was an uproar in the Parliament over the obscene content being aired on the channel. This is just another episode of many where broadcasters are airing indecent content on the small screen to gain high TRP raitings.

In the name of Reality Shows the broadcasters are airing content which is definitely not suitable for unrestricted public exhibition. From the MTV Roadies to the Splitsville and now Sach Ka Saamna obscenity (which many will read as boldness) has reached new heights. Back bitching, use of foul languages form the core of such Reality Shows. The question which arises is do we need a broadcast code?

I&B Minister Ambika Soni had do far favoured self-regulation by the broadcasters but the ministry has time and again seen this leniency is being misused. There are suggestions that the government could set up a a task force and create a National Broadcast Code (NBC). The task force will comprise of News Broadcasters' Association (NBA) and Indian Broadcasting Federation (IBF) to monitor television content.

Interestingly movies have to pass through the eyes of the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) but the television content doesn't have any level of scrutiny. Many broadcasters take advantage of this fact and air obscene content on General Entertainment Channels (GEC) during Prime Time. The content it at times so raunchy that it causes major embarrassment if two different generations of people watch it together.

Another thing that needs to be kept in mind is India still has a one home one television concept. Thus television serves as a living room media and the content needs to be unrestricted public exhibition. The argument is definitely not to ban adult content on television. They can definitely be aired at what is known as the 'Late Fringe' is US or after 11 PM. But these sort of content definitely shouldn't find their way into 'Prime Time' television.

Now many would say this as an interference in the day to day functioning of a media house and some would even term this law as a tool to protect our cultural hypocrisy. But again with so many violations happening time and again the government has been left with no choice but to take such harsh steps. It's a fact that the concept behind many of the reality shows do not fall in place with the common culture in the country. At the end of the day we cannot deny being Indians can we?


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