HC includes DTH operators, channels in adult movie ban ambit; slams cable blackout

MUMBAI: The Bombay High Court today ruled that broadcasters, including direct-to-home (DTH) service providers, were bound by the 21 December, 2005 order banning the telecast of movies with 'A' certificates.

The High Court bench, headed by Justice Lodha, pulled up the cable operators for their action of discontinuing transmission of all channels in the city. "The act was irresponsible," the bench decreed, adding that cable operators could not charge subscribers for the two days when services was not available.

The court also specified that the broadcasters have to obtain certificate from the censor board before they air any movies. Justice Lodha pointed out that the December 2005 order holds applicable to foreign channels.

What this means is that the nine channels charged with showing adult content --- Hindi and English movie channels (Zee Cinema, Star Movies, HBO, Filmy, Star Gold, AXN and Max), and Hindi entertainment channels Star One and Sahara One --- will continue to remain off air at least till the next hearing of the case.

Cable services were stalled on Monday evening after the Mumbai police raided cable TV control rooms and seized decoder boxes of the nine channels.

It was in the December 2005 that the High Court had ordered the police to take action against cable operators and cable service providers who beamed movies without 'A' or 'U/A' certificates. This was in response to a public interest litigation filed by social activist Pratibha Nathani.

However, today's order made an important modification to the original order delivered last December. The court pointed out that movies with U/A (universal/adult) certification cannot be banned. These would be allowed to be screened but would have to run a cautionary scroll highlighting that the movies can be watched under parental guidance, the court ruled.
The court also said that with this modification, if police have taken action against anybody for showing U/A movie in the past few days, such an action will have to be discharged, news agency Press Trust of India reported.

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