HC's U/A ok sees Sahara One, Filmy back on air

MUMBAI: Sahara One and Filmy are back on the cable TV networks in Maharashtra while the ban on the other seven channels for showing adult movie content continues.

"Sahara One and Filmy were banned due to a confusion on U/A certificate. We have certain movies with U/A certificate and mistakenly it was included in the A category. But yesterday's High Court ruling brought the clarity that U/A certified movies don't come under the purview of the ban. Hence, our two channels are now back on air," says Sahara One Media & Entertainment CEO Shantonu Aditya.

B'casters to meet I&B ministry to convey views
Broadcasters are planning to meet the information and broadcasting (I&B) ministry to represent their views. They are willing to obtain certificate from the censor board before they air any movies. But they feel the entire process of certification of their movie library would require time. "The certification board needs to beef up its infrastructure to clear a huge pile of movies. We want to be given time for carrying out this process," says a senior executive of a leading movie channel.

The channels which are still to come on air are Star Gold, Star Movies, Star One, Max, Zee Cinema, AXN and HBO. These channels will continue to remain off air at least till the next hearing of the case.

DTH providers continue to show banned channels
Direct-to-home (DTH) service providers, however, continued to show these banned channels as they were yet to be served notice. Tata Sky Ltd and Dish TV executives were not available for comment. The Bombay High Court yesterday ruled that DTH service providers and broadcasters were bound by the 21 December, 2005 order banning the telecast of movies with `A' certificates.
"Nobody has received the High Court order as yet. This could be the reason for these channels being still available on DTH," an industry observer says.

Out of the list of 122 movies given to the High Court, 84 have U/A certification. "We are happy that the order includes broadcasters and DTH operators. If DTH is showing the channels today, that may be because the fine print of the High Court order has not reached anybody," says Ravi Singh, a distributor of Wire and Wireless India Ltd (WWIL).

The cable TV service in pockets of Malad and Borivli, located in the western suburbs of Mumbai, are yet to resume following the police raid and sealing of amplifiers. "We are taking up the matter with the court tomorrow for restoration of signals. Seven sub-operators are affected in this area," says Singh.

Broadcasters have recently been cautious in buying Hindi movies from producers. In acquiring new adult movies for telecast rights, they are insisting on re-censoring it for television. Sahara, for instance, acquired Gangster, an `A'-rated movie after asking the producer to re-censor it for TV viewing.

"In case we buy A movies in future, we will re-censor it," says Aditya.

Film producers, however, feel that re-censoring is an unnecessary headache and will occupy bureaucratic procedures. The editing may also make it less attractive for TV viewing if the content is essential to the plot of the movie, they say.

Meanwhile, the Film & Television Producers Guild Of India has sought clarity from the I&B minister Priya Ranjan Das Munshi over the confusion prevailing "in respect of film certification and broadcast content regulation."

Guild president Amit Khanna said the entire entertainment fraternity would be grateful if the I&B ministry could take issue of 'censorship' holistic in the spirit of a self-regulating code and take appropriate steps to make suitable legislative amendments in this regard at the earliest.

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