Impossible to police adult films on TV: cable ops

MUMBAI: Cable TV operators feel the Bombay High Court's interim order is impossible to implement on the ground. "We can't monitor so many channels," says Siticable CEO Jagjit Kohli, reacting to the order restraining cable operators from showing any film with an Adult's only (A) certificate on television.

What has particularly surprised the cable fraternity is the fact that it has come at a time when the downlinking policy is addressing the issue. "There is no regulatory mechanism for foreign channels. But that is what the downlinking policy is addressing. We could have waited for it to take effect," says Kohli.

Penalising cable TV on this ground is unfair, some operators say. "How do you expect cable operators to become censors? It will be impossible for us to stand in judgement over so many channels on a round-the-clock basis," remarks Incablenet director Ravi Mansukhani.

Cable operators also are puzzled at how direct-to-home (DTH) service providers are spared from this monitoring exercise. "If you have a DTH box, you can see adult content. But if the content is distributed by the cable networks, it is not allowed. This is no logic," says a senior executive of a leading multi system operator (MSO).

Broadcasters of Hindi movie channels have taken a cautious approach. In acquiring new adult movies for telecast rights, they are insisting on recensoring it for a `U' censor certificate on television.

Says Sahara One Media and Entertainment Ltd Shantonu Aditya, "We have no problem. We have `U' certificate movies or those which are recensored."

B4U India COO BL Gautam feels Hindu movie channels won't be much impacted "Nobody wants to buy new adult movies which aren't recensored for television. Producers, in fact, are taking two certificates - the `A' one for theatres while `U' is for television," he says.

Star India will be in talks with producers who have sold it A-rated movies. Says EVP marketing & communication Ajay Vidyasagar, "Regarding the `A' certified movies we presently have in our collection, we will initiate a dialogue with the producers. Regarding the change of schedule, we are not planning anything for the present week. But for the future, we will do it if required."

Vidyasagar maintains that Star has been practicing a lot of restraint on the content it shows. "Star India respects the law of the land and has been practicing lot of restraint on the content it shows. We have a well laid-out set of guidelines on this topic which we follow and even the industry respects that. This applies to all our movie channels," he says.

Set Max business head Albert Almeida believes the trend to recensor `A' movies started over the last six months with legal cases on adult content grabbing attention. "We acquire movies for family viewing as we are a mass entertainment channel. But it is too early to comment until we receive the Bombay High Court order," he says.

Gautam believes that Hindi movie channels were recensoring new movies for `U' certificates because of commercial reasons. "Showing a new movie at 11 pm made little sense. They were recensoring the adult movies so that they could slot it at 9 pm," he says, referring to the regulation of airing adult content only from 11 pm onwards.

The problem is with recensoring a pile of old movies. "There are too many movies with `A' certificate. Getting this moving in quick time is a severe constraint," says Gautam.

English movie channels like HBO and Star Movies will be more impacted, analysts say.

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