Restrictions on television programming are futile. These matters are best left to parents.
You really don't have to watch this if you don't want to. But don't ban it. Or censor it.
It’s a vision from hell or, at the very least, from Nineteen Eighty-Four, Brave New World, The Handmaid’s Tale or Fahrenheit 451. An award-winning film is slated for its television premiere. At the last minute, the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting — it’s hard to think of a government authority with a more quintessentially dystopian moniker — pulls the plug and insists the telecast be moved to a late-night slot. We must protect our children, we are told.
Why? Because, according to the mutton-headed mandarins who decide these things, there is much in this film that might “deprave and corrupt” our impressionable children; that there is no way to shield our children from such harmful material; and because the law says so.
This law is the Cable TV Networks (Regulation) Act of 1995, and the Cable Television Networks Rules; specifically Rule 6(5) which says that “programmes unsuitable for children must not be carried in the cable service at times when the largest numbers of children are viewing.” Applying this Rule to Sony’s telecast of The Dirty Picture is beyond legal sophistry; it is downright dishonest. The film was re-cut for television, and re-certified, from an adults-only certification to a certificate that permits unrestricted public exhibition though with that small advisory suggesting parental guidance. The I&B ministry’s directive and the Censor Board’s recommendation both render this very specific certification utterly meaningless. Lost in translation is this: that neither the Ministry nor the Censors actually trust a single parent and therefore have taken the “parent” out of “parental guidance”.
What both the Ministry and the Censor Board seem to overlook are the other rules. Rule 6 is something called the “Programme Code”, and it contains many prohibitions. Some of these are truly delectable, others merely ridiculous. Rule 6(a) for example prohibits any programme that “offends against good taste or decency”. I have no idea what this means. As far as I can tell, about 99% of our soap operas fall foul of this exalted standard. Good taste in what? Clothes? Make up? Mangalsutras the size of railway tracks at Dadar Terminus? What is ‘decent’ about stereotyping communities, families and relationships? Many of these soaps seem to be nothing more than a form of emotional pornography, delving in excruciating voyeuristic detail into the minutiae of private lives. None are banned.
Then there’s Rule 6(j), an embargo on programming that “encourages superstition or blind belief”. That should account for another range of programmes. My favourite is Rules 6(m), the ultimate no-no: nothing that “Contains visuals or words which reflect a slandering, ironical and snobbish attitude in the portrayal of certain ethnic, linguistic and regional groups”. Slandering? Ironical? Snobbish? How do these words even find their way into a statute?
But wait. Rule 6 also tells us what cable operators should strive for, and it is “to carry programmes in his cable service which project women in a positive, leadership role of sobriety, moral and character building qualities.” Note that this is applicable to cable operators, not broadcasters; and Sunil, the character in Suketu Mehta’s Maximum City, carries programmes of a very different stripe from what this law requires. Sobriety, moral and character building qualities are not the highlights of these transmissions.1
The I&B Ministry and Censor Board statements and directives mean only this: that Indian parents are irresponsible and cannot be trusted to look to the welfare of their children, and that the Ministry and the Censor Board are, therefore, by some statutory figment, in loco parentis. Silk Smitha, Nylon Nalini, Poplin Pushpa and others with fabric-ated screen names are supposedly dangerous — imagine Lycra Lalitha (with a detergent, perhaps?) or Khadi Kavitha — and depictions of their lives will instantly turn a teenager into a sex fiend. Terylene Tulsi, however, is wholesome, never mind the subliminal messages about female identity and marriage, society, class, caste and hidebound values.
Both the Ministry and the censors miss something fundamental: children do not need television to see movies. They’re accessible on the Internet. And with many set-top boxes allowing TiVo style recording facilities, the time of the telecast is irrelevant to almost everyone except advertisers. The control freaks in government are technological dinosaurs caught in a time warp, an age when entire families would congregate to watch the latest episode of Ramayana. No kid today wants to sit down with nana-nani/dada-dadi or puppa-mummi to watch some textile-nicknamed actor’s shimmying rump. The telecast paladins would do well to acknowledge that our children today are a very savvy lot — they’ve got the uncensored version, minus the 56 cuts. This isn’t just a certain social class either: just look at the proliferation of satellite dish antennae across the city from high rises to slums and chawls.
Note to said dinosaur: look at the technology. Your law is obsolete. Your thinking is obsolete. You are obsolete. Obsolete, redundant and irrelevant. So please stop shouting in the wind. If you think you can actually control our viewing, perhaps it’s time to wake up and smell the cappuccino.
Restrictions like these, whether they come from ministers or college professors, are futile. These matters are best left to parents. They have many options. Like using the power button. Or the child-lock feature now standard on almost all TV sets. For those who believe that television is the devil’s handiwork, it’s simpler still: don’t keep a television set. And if that doesn’t help, try the simplest solution of all: don’t have children.
“It starts raining heavily, out of season. “Because of our sins,” reasons Sunil. “Even God doesn’t accept Bombay. God made the world, but he doesn’t accept Bombay.” And Sunil certainly knows about sin. On Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday, Sunil will broadcast a pornographic film on his cable network. The requests for porn often come from his female subscribers.” ↩
Someone To Watch Over Me
It's a vision from hell or, at the very least, from *Nineteen Eighty-Four*, *Brave New World*, *The Handmaid's Tale* or *Fahrenheit 451*. An award-winning film is slated for its television premiere. At the last minute, the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting -- it's hard to think of a government authority with a more quintessentially dystopian moniker -- [pulls the plug and insists the telecast be moved to a late-night slot]. We must protect our children, we are told.
: http://ibnlive.in.com/news/dirty-picture-tv-premiere-stalled-despite-59-cuts/251222-8-66.html "Dirty Picture: TV premiere stalled despite 59 cuts, IBN Live, 23 April 2012"