Melon Farmers Original Version

TV Censorship in India

India considers the regulation of TV for adults


India's war against a BBC documentary on Modi...

The government tried to suppress the documentary in India

Link Here 23rd February 2023
Full story: TV Censorship in India...India considers the regulation of TV for adults

On the morning of February 14, 2023, approximately two dozen officials from India's Income Tax Department made their way into the India office of the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) located in the capital city of New Delhi to start an "income tax survey" of the organization. According to Newslaundry , a media watchdog in India, roughly 100 employees from the organization who were present in the building at the time were asked to submit their phones and remain on the premises during the raid. A similar "survey" also started at the BBC office in Mumbai. The search lasted for three days and was concluded on the evening of February 16, 2023.

For those familiar with the socio-political circumstances in India, the news on Tuesday came as no surprise since it followed a pattern that has become extremely common in the country. BBC, the national broadcaster of the United Kingdom, had been the topic of public conversation and news coverage for the past month, the reason being its explosive documentary on the Gujarat riots of 2002 .

In January 2023, the BBC released a two-part documentary titled " India: The Modi Question ," which aimed to highlight the rising violence against the Muslim minority population in India under the leadership of its current Prime Minister Narendra Modi . The first part of the series, released on January 17, focused on the horrific Gujarat riots of 2002. The segment exposed the significant involvement of the Narendra Modi-led Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government in the state of Gujarat in the violent attacks against the Muslim minority population during that period.

The information the documentary shared was nothing new and has existed in the form of publicly available written records, documentation and reportage for the last two decades. During a rally in November 2022, Amit Shah, a prominent leader of the BJP and the Minister of Home Affairs, acknowledged the Gujarat riots in which a large number of people, primarily Muslims, lost their lives. Shah proclaimed that " they were taught a lesson ."

Blocking the documentary in India

Yet the Indian government's reaction to the documentary was instant, dismissing it as a propaganda piece . The documentary was made available only in the UK through BBC's online streaming service BBC iPlayer; however, it was uploaded to multiple YouTube channels by individuals and extensively shared on various social media platforms. The government invoked emergency laws to completely prohibit access to the documentary on the web for viewers in India. Kanchan Gupta, the senior adviser at the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting mentioned in a tweet on January 2023 that a number of YouTube videos containing the first episode of the BBC documentary and over fifty tweets with links to the YouTube videos were ordered to be taken down .

On January 24, the BBC aired the second part of the documentary, which examined the performance of the Modi government following its re-election in 2019, and it was not subjected to any censorship orders.

The decision by Twitter to remove the tweets and the lack of support from Western democracies in defence of the BBC's documentary, which the organization claimed was " rigorously researched ," sparked widespread debate.

Cracking down on public screenings

Despite the Modi government's desperate attempts to suppress the documentary and prevent it from being viewed online, student groups in prestigious universities across India conducted public screenings to demonstrate their dissent against the oppressive government.

However, the government responded with severe measures against these student groups. Students who screened or watched the documentary were suspended by colleges , while supporters of the BJP and state-led groups held protests outside universities, even going so far as to threaten the students with physical violence and murder for screening the documentary.

In addition, BJP leaders labelled the BBC as corrupt and accused them of having ulterior motives in trying to "defame" India's reputation. They denounced the documentary as propaganda and condemned it as an expression of a colonial mindset . These criticisms were also used to justify the ban on the documentary.

The raids follow a pattern

Considering this sequence of events, the recent raid on the BBC seems to be retaliatory action , aimed at teaching the organization a lesson and hindering its operations in India, while citing other reasons. It is possible to arrive at this inference since the BJP has previously employed state agencies such as the IT (Income Tax) Department and ED (Enforcement Directorate), which investigates financial crimes, to target think tanks, NGOs and media outlets that have dared to criticize the government led by Narendra Modi.

For instance, on September 7, 2022, the IT Department conducted raids in the offices of Oxfam India, Centre for Policy Research (one of the most prominent think tanks in India) and Independent And Public-Spirited Media Foundation (IPSMF), which funds several media outlets like The Wire , The Caravan , The Print , all of which have been critical of the BJP. The investigations were aimed at scrutinizing alleged violations of the Foreign Contributions Regulations Act (FCRA), a law that regulates foreign funding in India.

Since coming into power, the BJP has tightened FCRA regulations , requiring more detailed reporting and scrutiny of civil society organizations that receive foreign funding in India. The government has also denied the renewal of FCRA licenses for hundreds of NGOs, alleging their involvement in " anti-national activity ."

In July 2021, the IT Department conducted a raid on Dainik Bhaskar, a prominent Hindi-language newspaper in India, over allegations of tax evasion. Opposition leader Jairam Ramesh tweeted that the newspaper was targeted because:

Through its reporting Dainik Bhaskar has exposed the Modi regime's monumental mismanagement of the COVID-19 pandemic. It is now paying the price.

An Undeclared Emergency as Arun Shourie has said -- this is a Modified Emergency.

-- Jairam Ramesh (@Jairam_Ramesh) July 22, 2021

In February 2021, The offices of independent media house Newsclick in New Delhi and Uttar Pradesh, along with residences of its senior management were raided by the ED, which accused the organization of money laundering. Newsclick had previously been critical of the BJP-led central government in its reporting and extensively covered the Farmer's Protests that shook the nation.

The India office of international human rights organization Amnesty International faced raids by the ED in 2018 and 2019, which accused the organization of violating the FCRA act. Amnesty's bank accounts were subsequently frozen, leading to the organization's cessation of operations in India in September 2020. Amnesty accused the Indian government of engaging in a witch hunt due to the organization's work criticizing the government.

It is noteworthy that media houses or NGOs with close ties to the BJP or those known to report positively about the party have not been subjected to similar raids or searches, regardless of any allegations made against them.

Groups advocating for human rights are warning about the alarming decline in human rights and media freedom in India. They argue that state agencies are being used as weapons to suppress all forms of dissent and criticism of the government in the country. As a result, the cost of being an independent journalist in India has become very high.

In order to avoid facing similar retaliatory measures, many mainstream media channels in India have resorted to becoming mouthpieces of the government, sharing nothing beyond propaganda, thus making it harder for the public to access unbiased and critical information.



Update: De-adultisation...

Indian film censor allows producers to cut their adult rated films for TV

Link Here11th October 2015
Full story: TV Censorship in India...India considers the regulation of TV for adults
India's crazed film censor has decided to allow producers to voluntarily cut adult rated films for TV. Chief censor, Pahlaj Nihalani, said:

As we all know, all Adult films have to be re-certified before telecast. However producers complained about a delay in the re-certification process as the CBFC often found the material unpalatable for family viewing on the home medium. Now we'll allow producers to make the cuts that would make their 'A' films eligible for a 'UA' certificate and bring their films to us.

This is not to say that the films would become automatically eligible when submitted.

We will examine the modified version and see if it's fit for family audiences on television and then grant the 'UA' certificate with changes if necessary. Also, this new rule is only for films with individual scenes for mature audience which can be cut and detached from the film. For films with an adult theme the 'UA' certificate required for telecast remains out of bounds.



Update: Parental guidance becomes parental diktat...

India TV viewers are worried that censorship rules require that only U rated films suitable for children are to be allowed on TV

Link Here 7th September 2015
Full story: TV Censorship in India...India considers the regulation of TV for adults
Recently, judges at Delhi High Court found that under the Cable Network Regulation Act, any movie with U/A (PG) or A (18) certification, which were not suitable for unrestricted exhibition, cannot be shown on television.

Most industry insiders fear that not allowing U/A films from being screened on television will mean a loss of 40% revenue for producers. Not just local producers and regional channels, even those screening foreign movies will face a huge issue if such a norm is put into effect.

Actress Rituparna Sengupta termed this as a detrimental step. It'll harm both actors and producers. Producer Srikant Mohta described this as the last nail on the industry's coffin . Describing this as an attack on freedom of expression, director Srijit Mukherji said this will mean asking film-makers to make movies for kids. Producer Rana Sarkar apprehended that such a move would result in a massacre . This is death of creativity, Sarkar said.

The recent development happened when on August 21, the Delhi High Court stayed the television premier of Indra Kumar's Grand Masti after a petition was filed by MediaWatch-India, a moralist group campaigning for 'decency' and accountability in the media. The adult Hindi film had earlier been re-certified by Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) after 33 minutes of cuts But the court stay order had said that the film was not certified for unrestricted public exhibition and cannot be televised under the Cable Network Regulation Act. In an interim order, the court had rejected the argument that parents could change the channel since a warning that it was not suitable for minors is shown before such a movie starts. The bench had observed that a child's TV viewing may not always be under parental supervision.

Manish Desai, CEO of India's films censors said:

The matter is still being examined, especially in the light of the petition on 'Grand Masti' which was converted from 'A' to 'U/A' with deletions.

A notice has been issued to the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting and CBFC seeking their replies by September 16 on a plea seeking quashing of the U/A certification given to the movie.



Update: Cuts not allowed...

India's loony film censor unilaterally bans 18 rated films from TV, even after extensive cuts

Link Here11th July 2015
Full story: TV Censorship in India...India considers the regulation of TV for adults
Pahlaj Nihalani, surely the most megalomaniac head that the Central Board of Film Classification (CBFC) has ever had, has resurrected an old rule from 1990 that means that 'A ' (18) rated films can no longer be aired on television even if they have been re-cut or re-censored to be eligible for a U or U/A certificate.

Nihalani claims he's simply going by the book and told 9XE that this is a result of films in recent times becoming more predominantly vulgar themes by depicting sex and featuring double meaning dialogues , which he deems as infinitely more harmful than the violence and horror that would form a staple of Hindi cinema earlier. We cannot possibly edit out a film's theme, he was quoted as saying, so how do we re-censor these films to make them U or U/A?

TV channels are legally not allowed to broadcast adult content but have previously allowed the films to be shown after CBFC cuts to a lower rating. Of course if the CBFC refuse to make the cuts then the films are then automatically banned from TV.

Of course losing TV sales will hit the pockets of producers of such films and may lead to fewer A rated films being made.



Update: Very Offensive and Obscene...

Warners Movie channel in India shut down for 1 day as punishment for not making 31 cuts to a TV showing of a PG-13 rated US comedy

Link Here 18th January 2014
Full story: TV Censorship in India...India considers the regulation of TV for adults
The Indian government has decreed that the international movie channel, WB (Warner Brothers) will have to shut down for 1 day as punishment for nota applying 31 cuts to the PG-13 rated US comedy, It's a Boy Girl Thing .

The film is rated as UA in India which is a parental guidance rating. The Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) had stipulated 15 voluntary cuts and l6 compulsory cuts in the film for TV broadcast, but these were not implemented.

The film channel had apologised and said that the broadcast was a mistake but the state censors had got very heavy with the film channel claiming:

The Visuals shown are very offensive and obscene as the private parts of male and female are focused upon. The portrayal of the sex change is in bad taste and is indecent. The visuals are not fit to be viewed by children and also not suitable for unrestricted public exhibition. These visuals also denigrate women.



Update: Blurred Thinking...

Indian censor dictates that music videos objectifying women have to be kidified for TV

Link Here7th September 2013
Full story: TV Censorship in India...India considers the regulation of TV for adults
Bollywood songs and dance numbers featuring sexily dressed women displaying supposedly vulgar moves have been ordered to be pixellated or blurred on television. The Central Board of Film Censorship (CBFC) says that scenes 'objectifying' women or displaying them suggestively will have to be blurred or pixellated.

The censorship has started with Tu Bhi Mood Mein , a playful raindance number from Indra Kumar's soon-to-bereleased adult comedy Grand Masti . The song is now being aired on music channels with pixels covering 'objectionable' parts of the images. The uncensored promos of the film have gone viral on YouTube.

CBFC chief censor Pankaja Thakur explained:

Songs that are moderate in content are acceptable to the TV audience but the board is careful when it comes to something that is either too vulgar or inappropriate. Special instructions are thus given for toning down such songs,

According to directives of Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, films with A certification (Adults only) have to be re-certified for TV viewing by the censor board. For this reason, the A-certified Grand Masti has been scrutinised for TV viewing.



Update: Vulgar Censorship...

India bans Comedy Central 10 days for supposedly vulgar and obscene content

Link Here26th May 2013
Full story: TV Censorship in India...India considers the regulation of TV for adults

Comedy Central has been banned for ten days for airing supposedly obscene and vulgar words and being derogatory to women.

Stating multiple clauses that the channel has breached, the I&B Ministry asked Comedy Central to go off air from May 25 till June 4 for a comedy broadcast during Stand Up Club and Popcorn programmes on May 26 and July 4 last year.

The order issued by Delhi High court claimed that the programme showed a stand up comedian mouthing supposedly vulgar words accompanied by obscene and suggestive gestures and gyration.

Jokes during his performance supposedly denigrated women, indecently and crudely referred to sex organs of men-and women and the sing-song rendition by the man sought to pornographically describe male lust, whilst depicting women as a commodity of sex.

The second case was an episode from the reality show titled Popcorn wherein members of the Comedy Central crew are seen playing pranks on the general populace. In this case, one of the Comedy Central crew members was seen mimicking the act of intercourse with a set of dummy legs, in different locations.

Update: Ban stayed

28th May 2013. See  article from

A division bench of the Delhi High Court has stayed an order of the information and broadcasting (I&B) ministry that prohibited transmission and re-transmission of the television channel, Comedy Central.

The HC bench stayed the order after hearing Sujeet Jain, executive vice-president, of Viacom, who had challenged the ban.



Update: Improper Blurring...

Indian Government bans FashionTV for 10 days over supposedly indecent broadcasts

Link Here29th March 2013
Full story: TV Censorship in India...India considers the regulation of TV for adults

Upset over the broadcast of supposedly indecent visuals on Fashion TV, a committee of the Information and Broadcasting Ministry ordered that the channel be taken off air for 10 days.

The ministry said it had issued a show cause notice to FTV after it telecast programmes like Midnight Haute & Designers in High Definition ,'Chantellie Lingerie, Paris' and Lingerie in September 2011. It claimed that the visuals offended good taste and decency and were obscene and vulgar and not suitable for unrestricted public exhibition and also for children.

According to the panel, the programme Designers in high definition showed models walking on the ramp while a man in an underwear was clinging to a woman in an embrace in the background:

Both are shown insinuatingly swaying their bodies and making suggestive postures. Such a portrayal appears to offend good taste and decency and also appears obscene.

Again in April 2012, the channel telecast another programme 15th Anniversary- Top Designers . The committee claimed:

The programme showed nudity of female bosom, which appeared obscene and vulgar, showing form and figure of women in an indecent way. The visuals did not appear suitable for unrestricted public exhibition and also not suitable for children.

Representatives of FTV during a personal hearing at the panel said there was no nudity in the content. When the committee offered them to show recorded instances where buttocks and breast were fully exposed, they replied that these instances would have happened due to improper blurring.

This is the third time that the government has ordered FTV to be taken off air.



Update: Governments With No Benefits...

Indian shuts down TV channel for 2 weeks for airing a trailer to a 15 rated romantic comedy

Link Here 10th January 2013
Full story: TV Censorship in India...India considers the regulation of TV for adults

India's government has directed all cable and television platforms not to carry SS TV channel for a fortnight from the midnight of 15 January to the midnight of 30 January for telecasting the trailer for the supposedly  'adult' film Friends with benefits on 30 September 2011. The film is a comedy romance that is 15 rated in the UK.

Television transmission platforms have also been prohibited from carrying Zing and Enterr 10 television channels for one day from midnight of 12 January for telecasting 'adult' films in violation of the programme code.

While Zing TV had telecast the adult film Hawas in January, the Enterr 10 channel telecast three Hindi feature films -- Musafir on 29 September 2011, Plan on 19 October 2011 and Aashiq Banaya Apnne on 31 January 2012.

In the case of Hawas , the directive noted that the film showed visuals of passionate love making and kissing scenes between a couple, who were shown to be clinging to each other and writhing in bed in an explicit portrayal of sexual desires overpowering them. Such a portrayal is distinctly meant for adult audience, for which CBFC had appropriately given A certification to the said film.



Update: Censor Double Speak...

Indian TV 'regulators' have a whinge at double entendre in comedy

Link Here29th December 2012
Full story: TV Censorship in India...India considers the regulation of TV for adults

The Broadcasting Content Complaints Council (BCCC) has issued an advisory to India broadcasters whingeing at double entendres in comedy.

According to BCCC staff, there is a lot of double-meaning language being used in comedy shows, and sometimes it crosses the line towards vulgarity on various channels, and they have received complaints regarding it. AP Shah, BCCC Chairperson, spouted in a statement:

Comedy is an intrinsic part of our life and it is only natural that TV channels produce and telecast programmes that are humorous and light-hearted. The BCCC, however, feels that the line that divides healthy comedy from vulgarity, obscenity and double-meaning language must be strictly adhered to.

This is necessary to ensure that the social message sent across through various comedy shows to millions of viewers does not overstep this all-important threshold. We are confident that the channels which telecast comedy shows will keep this in mind.

The organisation, a self-censorship body for non-news general entertainment channels, has also asked channels to pay special attention to the issue of the supposed sexualisation of children on television shows.



Update: Pending Further Discussion...

India orders film censors to do their job and certify films for TV

Link Here 1st September 2012
Full story: TV Censorship in India...India considers the regulation of TV for adults

The Indian film industry, which has been battling to overturn a unilateral censor board decision to ban A-rated films from television, can heave a sigh of relief, at least for now.

This newspaper has learnt that the Information & Broadcasting Ministry has stepped in to resolve the deadlock by asking censors to continue cutting films for the small screen until suitable amendments are made in the Cable Television Act.

Once these changes are in place, however, the censors may get their wish that a majority of the re-certified movies can be shown on TV only after 11 pm. The censors contend that some of these films, no matter how extensive the cuts, deal with themes that are unsuitable for younger audiences.

The idea of an 11pm watershed for adult A rated films was demanded by the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC). When the TV companies refused to play along with the idea, the CBFC protested by working to rule and refusing to certify any adult films for TV. A CBFC certificate is a legal requirement for films shown on TV.

Update: A Gathering of TV Censors

21st September 2012. See  article from

To put an end to controversies on the lines of the TV telecast of the Vidya Balan starrer Dirty Picture , an umbrella body is being mulled that will pre-censor films to be telecast on television.

The self-regulatory body comprising representatives from the film industry, Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC), information and broadcasting ministry and the Broadcast Content Complaints Council (BCCC) will decide whether the film in question is suitable for TV telecast on the basis of content and also fix a particular time slot.

This proposal which is at an initial stage has come from the CBFC and is being positively considered by the BCCC and the I&B ministry, said an official on condition of anonymity.

Update: A more representative committee

18th October 2012. See  article from

We've learnt Censor Board Chief Leela Samson flew down to Mumbai and met up with filmmakers Yash Chopra, Mukesh Bhatt, Ramesh Sippy, Siddharth Roy Kapoor, Ashutosh Gowariker, Harry Baweja and top producers from the South at Hotel Sahara Star in Andheri East. CBFC CEO Pankaja Thakur was also present.

Most importantly, a decision was taken at the meeting to form a separate committee to review films that are rejected by the censor board for TV viewing.

The committee will comprise members from different walks of life and will include directors, actors, judges, social activists, teachers as well as CBFC representatives.

Once the CBFC identifies the objectionable movies, the committee will then take a call as to what time they should be slotted, whether prime time or post 11pm. The committee will reserve the right to reject a film that they find totally unfit for small screen viewing.



Update: TV Tantrums...

India's film censors end service to cut down adult rated films for TV

Link Here25th August 2012
Full story: TV Censorship in India...India considers the regulation of TV for adults

India's Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) told Mumbai Mirror that it has decided to stop re-certifying A-rated films for TV, thereby making them ineligible for television screening.

It's a decision that is now threatening to derail several top-of-the-line production houses which make a chunk of their profits from the advance sale of satellite rights.

A number of big-ticket films, including Aamir Khan's home production Delhi Belly , Anurag Kashyap's Gangs of Wasseypur (parts 1 and 2) and Vikram Bhatt's Hate Story are waiting for CBFC clearance. The satellite rights of many of these films have already been sold to broadcasters for big money.

When contacted, the censor board's CEO Pankaja Thakur confirmed that the re-certification had stopped already:

We're no longer modifying and certifying films to make them suitable for TV viewing, she said. This was not a part of the Cinematograph Act. We would like it to be included in the Act, but that is up to Parliament.

The controversy began last month when objections were raised with the manner in which The Dirty Picture had been modified for TV, with a case filed against its telecast.

The CBFC then told the film producers that they should specify to TV channels that all modified A-rated films should only be shown only after 11 pm. This suggestion was accepted for The Dirty Picture , but the producers of Jannat 2 , fearing a loss of revenue in satellite rights, challenged the CBFC's guideline in the Film Certification Appellate Tribunal (FCAT). The FCAT ruled in the film producer Mahesh Bhatt's favour, and told CBFC that it could not decide the slotting of films on TV.

Thakur explained that the CBFC were miffed at not being able to inflict transmission times and had decided to work to rule:

The modification of A-rated films was a facility that the CBFC was extending to the film industry to help them show their movies on TV. If we were doing something extra for them, we had a right to attach certain riders to it. Since this 11 pm condition is unacceptable, we have decided to go strictly by the original Act. We want the role of the CBFC to be redefined. If we are supposed to modify or re-certify films for TV viewing, it should be specified in the Act.

The film industry is now starting to panic. Insiders say that satellite rights of a movie constitute nearly 40 per cent of its gross earnings. A producer said:

If the film cannot be telecast, won't the channel want a refund? And hereafter, won't Adult films have no buyers whatsoever?

Mahesh Bhatt added:

This is a very serious matter. The film industry will have to lock horns with the government. We might require judicial intervention, or the entire economics of the film industry will go topsy turvy.



Update: Whinge Counters...

Indian TV censors make their first annual report

Link Here13th August 2012
Full story: TV Censorship in India...India considers the regulation of TV for adults

India's newly formed council of TV censors has made its first annual report to the Indian Information and Broadcasting Ministry.

It said that it had received 717 specific complaints, of which 47% were about supposed obscenity and nudity while 16% were regarding depiction of violence. 7% complaints related to TV content supposedly hurt religious and cultural sentiments. The report said that nearly 16% of specific complaints pertained to the theme of crime and violence and many of these were against shows based on actual crime cases.

Referring to the complaints related to sex, obscenity and nudity, the Broadcasting Content Complaint Council report said that a large number of such complaints were found to be violating Indian Broadcasting Federation's self-regulatory guidelines. The report said:

The BCCC directed some channels that since these programmes were not suitable for telecast during general viewing hours, they should suitably modify the content and air such programmes during restricted viewing hours.

In some cases, channels completely took programmes off air.

The main concern was use of vulgar language by participants and the alleged obscene acts performed by them during the shows.



Update: One Hundred Cuts...

The Dirty Picture suffers in the name of a primetime TV broadcast

Link Here11th July 2012
Full story: TV Censorship in India...India considers the regulation of TV for adults

The Dirty Picture has been passed for daytime TV broadcast after nearly 100 cuts.

The controversial A (18) rated film had already suffered 59 cuts for a U/A certificate that would allow it to be shown on TV after 11pm.

Sources said the producers of the film approached the Central Board for Film Certification (CBFC) volunteering an additional 40 cuts for a U certificate. Certain words have been muted while 3-4 minutes of the film have been chopped off.

The Information and Broadcasting ministry had previously stepped in to stop screening of The Dirty Picture on prime time TV after an April 19 order of the Lucknow bench of the Allahabad High Court had asked the ministry to ensure that the telecast of the movie did not violate guidelines.

The I&B ministry had then turned to CBFC for advice which had said the U/A certificate given to the film after several cuts meant that parental guidance was a must. CBFC had also asked the ministry to tell all channels, which are planning to telecast U/A rated movies in near future , to do so only after 11 pm.



Update: Uncensored...

Indian government whinges that TV channels are broadcasting films without the mandatory censorship certificate

Link Here4th June 2012
Full story: TV Censorship in India...India considers the regulation of TV for adults

About 382 movies were broadcast by 38 different channels without displaying the mandatory certificate from the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) in the month of January 2012.

This has upset the Information and Broadcasting (I&B) Ministry which has now asked the Indian Broadcasting Federation (IBF) to ensure that all channels display the censor certificates while telecasting films and ensure that rules are followed.

According to the official sources, the Electronic Media Monitoring Cell (EMMC) of the ministry had in a report pointed out the non-display of these mandatory certificates by TV channels on 382 occasions.

Officials said that the ministry had reasons to be annoyed that the practice of sidestepping censorship law  had become widespread. Sources said that not just the private players, but even the national broadcaster Doordarshan in January this year had telecast a movie without displaying the CBFC certificate.


14th May

Updated: A Watershed for Indian TV...

Indian government reported to have decided to ban all adult and parental guidance films from TV until 11pm

A popular film called The Dirty Picture was released in India with an A (18) certificate. It was massively cut by the film censors for a UA (PG) rating so that it could be shown on TV in daytime. However it seems that it was cut enough for the moralists and the daytime showing caused a bit of a stink in India.

Now sources from the Information & Broadcasting Ministry say that a decision has been taken to prevent all films with an A (adult) or a UA (parental guidance) certificate to be screened during daytime. A source said:

At a high-level meeting recently in the I & B Ministry it was decided that only films certified for universal exhibition would be screened during daytime on television. Films that are certified A or UA can only be screened post 11 pm.

But the TV and film industry are not happy. An industry explained that producers nowadays sell satellite rights of their films for huge amounts of money. A major part of a film's revenue comes from the television premiere. If the screening-time of films with an A and UA certificate on television is restricted to post 11 pm, satellite revenue would be accordingly reduced since the viewership would be seriously dented.

Many interested parties are now keenly waiting an official statement from the ministry.

Update: Separate TV Censorship

6th May 2012. See  article from

The government is all set to introduce a separate rating system for films being telecast on private TV networks. The decision on the new rating system, which will co-exist with the one for films released in theatres, was taken after a meeting between officials of the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) and the information and broadcasting ministry.

Sources said CBFC chairperson Leela Samson has given in-principle approval for the idea, and a detailed set of guidelines will be framed soon.

Update: Still Arguing

14th May 2012. See  article from

Tense television broadcasters can breathe a sigh of relief. It seems the proposal to not screen Adults films on television may not be implemented at all. According to sources, there was a serious proposal to completely ban Adult films from television and thereby do away with the procedure of re-certification for television.

Television broadcasters went into a panic mode. A hush-hush high-level meeting between CBFC members and television broadcasters was called and the heated discussion lasted till late in the night.

The outcome, however, was in favour of the broadcasters. According to very reliable sources, the proposal to ban A films completely from satellite television has been revoked. Instead some very censorial guidelines regarding the telecast of A films on television are likely to be laid down.

The source said: The procedure of re-censoring 'A' films for television is likely to continue. However even when films are passed with a 'UA' certificate strigent rules would have to be applied. These include prominent scrolls declaring the relevance and full significance of the 'UA' certificate and warnings about cigarette smoking being injurious to health.

The CBFC, it is reliably learnt, would make its recommendations to the I&B ministry that the UA certification for the television broadcast of feature films be allowed to continue. But with several new additional censorship rules.


13th January

Update: Dictatorship of the Tiny Minority...

India's new TV censor makes first report after 6 months of viewer whinges

  Sunny Leone
Biggest reasons for complaint

India's Broadcast Content Complaints Council (BCCC) received 3,441 complaints in six months since its inception in June last year, with biggest attractions for complaint being a Rakhi Sawant hosted programme and the appearance of porn star Sunny Leone in reality show Bigg Boss 5.

The self-regulatory body dismissed most of the complaints, officials said. Just 479 were specific complaints which were considered in remit and were heard by the Counci.

Among these 36 complaints specifically raised issues related to the appearance of Leone on Colors Channel programme Bigg Boss 5. Some of the complainants had claimed that children are being exposed to porn industry as they are getting curious to know who is a porn star.

BCCC upheld the whinges against Leone considering her appearance on Bigg Boss-5 to be promotional material for her own websites. The censor advised the channel to choose future participants with care.

The most complaints, 58, were received about the telecast of a programme Gazab Desh ki azab Kahania which was hosted by Rakhi Sawant on Imagine TV.

A majority of the other complainants objected to depiction of sexuality in television programmes. BCCC took action ranging for advising channels to not telecast programmes during general viewing hours to prohibiting telecast in some cases.


4th April

Update: Old Fogeys...

India sets up panel headed by retired judge to censor TV

By mid April, a panel headed by a retired judge with the mandate to monitor television channels will be in place.

It will report on sensitive and supposedly vulgar content on television. This panel will also take up public complaints regarding any 'objectionable' content on TV, ministry sources said.

A watershed period or time for adult viewing will be fixed from 11 pm to 5 am. Watershed hours will have content that is meant for selective viewing which may not necessarily mean adult content. So naturally it's not a free-for-all situation, the source said.

At present, the I&B ministry has facilities to record programmes of 300 TV channels on a 24-hour basis and store recorded content up to a period of 90 days.


16th July

Update: Government TV Censor...

India reframes its proposal to set up a national TV censor

In an attempt to control news channels, the Indian government has proposed setting up of a government appointed committee - the National Broadcast Authority of India - that will have the power to screen programmes or advertisements before broadcast, and formulate the content code.

The committee will have all the powers that were part of the controversial Broadcasting Services Regulation Bill, 2007, which had to be shelved because of fears that it would have led to censorship.

The I&B ministry's new draft envisages a three-tiered redressal structure with the initial two tiers of content monitoring being that of self-regulation. Grievances or complaints that are not settled by the channel itself or by the industry association (at the second level) will then go to the NBAI. The NBAI will be the final authority for all issues related to content and carriage.

While the oversight-of-last resort arrangement is clearly meant to ward off criticism that government wants to control content, this by itself may not assuage the concerns of censorship.

The ministry's task force report gives the NBAI the power to authorise officers to block news content if public tranquility is disturbed. It also suggests that the government retain powers to intervene in the interest of sovereignty and integrity of the country.

The NBAI will, according to the draft, comprise one representative of the media, while the other six members will include eminent persons with 15 years of experience from fields of law, public administration, finance, IT and social work.

News broadcasters expressed fears that the NBAI will be filled with retired bureaucrats or otherwise pliable civil society members as is the practice in nearly all regulatory authorities. The lone representative of media may find it difficult to put across his viewpoint.


6th April

Update: Rated as Inadequate...

India TV minister doesn't want to be a censor...but...

India's Information & Broadcasting Minister, Ambika Soni, said she herself was 'shocked' by some of the serials she sees on air.

Some serials are meaningless and take us back in time. I don't want to be a censor board for TV ...BUT... we are talking about homes which have just one TV. So there have to be some self-regulatory norms because what enters our rooms has to be separate from films, she said.

The Minister also said that if self-regulatory norms don't work, the government will have to step in.

She added that she wanted to review the entire ratings system for television or Television Rating Points: The present system of TRPs is not adequate.


16th October

Update: Widest Possible Consultations...

Getting nowhere in long lasting debate about Indian TV regulation

Despite its active participation in content regulation on Indian TV, the information and broadcasting ministry has suggested independent regulation by private players.

The government feels that there must be some sort of independent regulation. Every country has it but India doesn't. We have so many channels but no regulators. It doesn't make sense to us that we should be sitting over it (content regulation), said I&B ministry Joint Secretary Zohra Chatterji.

The content code has layers - self regulation and peer evaluation followed by independent regulation. The broadcasters came to us to leave it to them for some time. Above all, the prime minister has already made it clear that it (if anything is done by I&B) shall be done only after the widest possible consultations, she added.


4th October

Update: Human Values Stripped Away Forever...

Indian judge decides that 'vulgar' TV has destroyed India

Calling for a powerful moral guardian for the society, the Madras high court has favoured a stringent censor mechanism to vet television programmes that contain violence, obscenity and vulgarity.

Justice R Regupathi, quashing defamation proceedings initiated against actor Vijay in various courts of Tamil Nadu observed: The most dangerous trend is, there are certain channels which exclusively air music and fashion programmes with semi-nudity and adult content, and school-going children, who have free access to remotes, get to view such channels. Their character and psychology is hardened at a tender age...and it is feared that good behaviour, human values and moral standards would be stripped away forever.

He was passing orders on the petitions filed by Vijay, producer of Sivakasi AM Rathinam and its director Perarasu, who sought quashing of over a dozen defamation proceedings initiated by advocates in different courts. Advocates, represented by S Prabakaran, claimed the film scornfully ridiculed the legal profession. During the hearing, the crew apologised for the scenes and said objectionable portions had already been deleted.

Recording the apology, the judge quashed the complaints, but with an observation: The film industry too has social and moral responsibilities... Of late, it is irritating to note that corruptive, pointless and irresponsible messages are being conveyed through movies in the name of entertainment.

Justice Regupathi lamented that most of the movies, documentaries, serials, music and dance programmes televised ceaselessly contained obscene, vulgar and violent scenes, besides promoting supernatural and superstitious beliefs. In such a critical situation, clear and stringent censorship guidelines for TV programmes must be laid down, he observed.

He said: The need of the hour is, apart from scrutiny of films, there should also be a close monitoring of television programmes so as to check lapses and to instantly initiate steps against transgressors. Such a governing body should be powerful, unbiased and mindful of its role and responsibility as a moral guardian of the society.


11th August

Update: Control Facility...

India considers adult TV throughout the day given parental controls

With broadcasters and the government close to working out a new content code for television, foreign movies with partial nudity and mature content may soon be allowed at all time bands on digital addressable media platforms like direct-to-home (DTH) services, conditional access system and IPTV platforms, which have the provision of a parental lock.

Currently, all foreign language films, even after adult certification from their country of origin, have to get approval from the Indian censor boards. To get the nod, they invariably have to undertake re-editing of the objectionable portions in the films, in accordance with the existing programme code under the cable TV law.

The existing analogue cable services may also be allowed to show adult content on television (foreign cinema to start with) but from 11 pm to 4 am only, as a broad consensus is being arrived at on the draft content code between the government and broadcasters, pending resolution for over two years.

This comes after the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (I&B) re-started discussion on the new content code with broadcasters. Government sources say at the most three to four more meetings will be required to finalise the code, that will replace the existing one, adapted from the guidelines drafted for Doordarshan decades earlier.


20th October

Supreme Nonsense...

Indian Supreme Court petitioned to censor TV

The Supreme Court of India is displeased with the quality of television programmes shown these days, and after hearing a Public Interest Litigation by an NGO, is considering regulating TV programmes to curb obscenity.

The NGO raised the question, Can there be a day in 365 days a family can sit together and watch TV without an assault on basic values?.

On receiving the petition, the court immediately issued a notice, in response to which TV channels have formed a separate body, headed by former Chief Justice of India JS Varma, for self regulation. State government is now being consulted on the proposed bill to regulate TV channels.

The petition so far has received mixed reactions from Judges on the bench. Justice Aftab Alam said, It is a delicate issue. I cannot be deciding what people want to see and appoint myself a guardian.

Justice GS Singhvi's reaction seemed to be in favour of regulation. He referred to two unforgettable incidents shown on TV: a person in Patiala immolating himself , and a man in Hyderabad who threw himself from the fifth floor of a building.

The judges have three weeks to consider the case, but it is hard to see how strict rules can be applied. Indian epics such as the Mahabharata contain a considerable amount of bloodshed and violence. Will such shows disappear from television?

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