Comedy Central to go off air for Six days

MUMBAI: Beginning tonight, 12 am onwards, audiences of Viacom18 owned Comedy Central will not be able to view the channel, which is set to go off air for six days  as a penalty given by Delhi High court for airing objectionable content.

The order comes after the Information and Broadcasting Ministry (I&B) found two of its TV programmes objectionable. The court observed that the show Stand Up Club telecast on 26 May 2012 at 20:52 hours on the channel “was not suitable for unrestricted public exhibition and children as the same depicted women as a commodity of sex and appeared to deprave, corrupt and injure the public morality and morals.”

The channels spokesperson said in a statement, “The matter is subjudice. Having said that, we are evaluating all available options to us."

With regards to the other show named Popcorn which was telecast on 4 July 2012 at 7:57 hours, was also found to be “vulgar, obscene, offending good taste and not suitable for unrestricted public exhibition and children.”

The channel on the other hand then submitted a reply blaming the telecast as an ‘operational mishap and unintentional error’ and apologized and assured that the creative, content and programming teams had been sensitized to the programme code. The Inter Ministerial Council which was set up to look at the violations of the programme code had asked the channel to go off air for 10 days.

Comedy Central then was of the opinion that the ban was long and therefore the broadcaster blocked out the channel for only four days. Viacom18 had then placed an appeal in the court which has now been dismissed.

The court also observed that the channel by committing a second violation (Popcorn) was clearly indicative of not  having paid heed to the warning given to it for the first violation, even if unintentional and took the matter of self regulation very lightly. “We may also add that the effect of punishment of prohibition of transmission for 10 days has already been diluted by the same being split into four plus six days. We therefore do not find any merit in this appeal and dismiss the same with costs of Rs 20,000 payable to the respondent within four weeks of today. Though the appellant has already given a statement as recorded in the order dated 28 May 2013 that in the event of dismissal of the appeal it would undergo the penalty imposed of prohibition for the balance period of six days, we clarify that the said penalty would come into force w.e.f. 00:01 hours of 26 November 2014,” the court observed in its concluding remarks.

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