Television

I&B ministry supports anti-smoking ban

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NEW DELHI: Formula One races with participants sporting logos of sponsors like Marlboro company may just sneak through on Indian television during a live telecast. Any such recorded events on sports channels would have to stop airing in India.

The reason being that the information and broadcasting ministry totally endorses a ban on smoking or tobacco companies being shown in films or TV programmes. The deadline to fall in line with the latest government diktat: first week of October.

The I&B ministry totally supports the health ministry ban on smoking on small and the big screen, minister Jaipal Reddy today told reporters after concluding over an hour long meeting with his counterpart in the health ministry.

However, he admitted that it has been conveyed to the health ministry that having scrollers or warnings flashing in old and already released films during scenes where characters are shown smoking is not feasible. We cannot have a law with retrospective effect, Reddy said.

So, in effect it means that the various arms of the government are united in smoking out the fire at the end of the white stick in films and TV programmes in future.

Still, the government has left itself some elbow room. Live telecasts of any events and documentaries depicting the ills of smoking have been left outside the ambit of the new anti-smoking law being attempted to be enforced in India.

What does that mean? If during a film awards show being aired live on television, for example, some body is shown smoking, it would not attract harsh penalties being mulled by the government.

The government is also looking at ways of amending the Cinematography Act and the Cable TV (Network) Regulation Act to enforce this anti-smoking move in films and television.

Also, if filmmakers and TV producers want to show characters smoking in future products, they would have to take permission from an inter-ministerial committee, which would review the situation on a case to case basis.

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