I&B ministry for dilution in smoking ban in films, TV serials

NEW DELHI: Information and broadcasting ministry today indicated further dilution in the ban on smoking scenes in films and TV serials by stating that “aesthetics” cannot be compromised with, but agreed to have cautionary messages at the beginning of a celluloid work.

Pointing out that the government is against promotion of tobacco and smoking in films and TV serials, I&B minister Jaipal Reddy today, however, said that the ban on smoking scenes being proposed by the health ministry would have to be aesthetically and technically feasible too.

“Whatever comes in the way of aesthetics will have to be given up…whatever’s not technically feasible will have to be given up,” Reddy told journalists at a briefing today after a meeting on various do’s and don’ts for film and TV programme makers.

In this connection, the government has proposed setting up of an industry body --- minus government participation --- that would be responsible for addressing various content-related complaints relating to film and TV industry.

According to Reddy, the entertainment industry needs to go in for some self-regulation and this proposed industry body is expected to evolve as a watchdog on the lines of Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI).

Meanwhile, coming back to the issue of scenes of smoking in films and TV programmes, Reddy said that any film or TV serial having such scenes would have to carry disclaimers against smoking and the ill-effects of it at the start. The minister also hinted that the categories under which exemptions could be given would be expanded.

A proposed ban on smoking scenes in films and TV programmes, mooted by the health ministry, had the entertainment industry in a tizzy as the original proposal would have amounted to defacing scenes from old films and serials

by running a scroller.

Reddy, while stating that the government is totally against promotion of tobacco products and smoking, added that brand extension (in case of tobacco companies) or surrogate advertising or in-film placement of tobacco brands would not be tolerated.

The proposed industry body would be responsible for weeding out cultural and religious insensitivities (no films to be named Jo Bole So Nihal, for instance) and also indecency from celluloid works. “This body should be the first filter before films come to the Censor Board,” Reddy said.

Today’s meeting was attended by ministry officials and industry people like Subhash Ghai, Bobby Bedi, Ramesh Sharma and Amit Khanna.

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