Television

UK's ITC slaps 10,000 fine on B4U

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MUMBAI: Britain's Independent Television Commission (ITC) yesterday imposed a financial penalty of 10,000 on B4U ("Bollywood For You") Channel for breaches of the ITC programme code by scheduling three films during the day whose content was unsuitable before the 9 pm watershed.

Three films, Aatank Hi Aatank, Ghulam and Sarfarosh were shown on Sunday 3, 24 and 31 March respectively, at 4 pm. Sarfarosh has been classified '18' for video release in the UK, and Aatank Hi Aatank and Ghulam are rated '15' certificate on video. The ITC Programme Code states that no '15' certificate film should normally start before 9 pm (8 pm on premium subscription services) and no '18' certificate film should start before 10 pm.

The ITC in its ruling said that while it accepted that edits had been made to the films to reduce the effect of some scenes and remove others altogether and recognising that Bollywood films do contain stylised violence, all three films contained numerous violent scenes, including frequent fist fights, beatings and gun fights, which the ITC considered unsuitable for afternoon transmission.

B4U is a subscription movie channel in the UK and is available on cable and satellite. It was granted an ITC licence in May 1999 and began broadcasting in the UK in August 1999. An official release says B4U has breached the ITC Programme Code on two occasions for wrongly scheduled films (January 2000 and April 2001), the ITC Advertising Code on three occasions (August 1999, January 2001 and August 2001), and has recorded one breach of the ITC Programme Sponsorship Code (February 2001).

The fine on B4U followed just a day after the ITC slapped a 10,000 penalty on Swedish broadcaster Kanal 5 for breaches of the Programme Code. ITC last imposed a financial penalty in July 2001, which was 100,000 for LWT for breaches of the Sponsorship Code.

Kanal 5 was penalised for transmitting a sexually explicit image throughout daytime television, including during programmes likely to appeal to children. The monochrome still image appeared in a trailer for an evening schedule that included a sex advice show, Fraga Olle. The image graphically showed a couple having sex. The image was taken from the opening credits for Fraga Olle (the general acceptability of the programme itself and its scheduling at 10pm or 10:30 pm, was not an issue).

The trailer was aired 67 times between 20 and 26 March 2002, from as early as 8 am and appeared frequently throughout the day, evening and night.

The Commission judged that the trailer breached Sections 1.2 and 1.6 of the ITC Programme Code (family viewing and the watershed and sexual portrayal before the watershed) and that the breach demonstrated a serious lack of rigour in the channel's approach to compliance.

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