Television
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Govt committed to encourage b'casters for self-reg: Prasad

NEW DELHI: The issue of censorship on television cropped up in a different way today when members of a parliamentary panel expressed their concern at the growing vulgarity on television.

However, while sharing the parliamentarians' concern, information and broadcasting minister Ravi Shankar Prasad reiterated that the government was committed to encourage the broadcasters to "exercise self-regulation" in airing content on television.

The participating members at the meeting expressed concern at the growing vulgarity in the music videos (the usual suspect!), film promos and surrogate advertisements on television. Some of the parliamentarians were of the opinion that many television programmes were not fit for family viewing.

The contrary view was also expressed insisting that the government should still strive only for self-regulation.

The attempt made by a Shiv Sena Member of Parliament, journalist-turned-film entrepreneur Pritish Nandy, to question the government's role in deciding what Indians should see or not see could not hold its ground as the I&B minister and others made a strong case for some decency on the small-screen.

Still slightly taken aback by the public and media outcry on a government proposal that only `U' certifiable content should be shown on television channels beaming into India, Prasad today morning told members of the Consultative Committee attached to his ministry that the government has no intention to "police" the contents of the broadcasting sector.

Prasad was of the view that the television medium on its part has to be more cautious while adhering to self-regulation and pointed out that desirable levels were not being maintained.

He said the ministry has received a number of complaints from various non-governmental organisations and the National Women's Commission regarding indecent portrayal of women, violence and surrogate advertisements being telecast on various channels.

The minister said that in order to frame and enforce regulating guidelines from time to time for the content on TV and radio, the government is considering setting up of a Broadcasting Regulatory Authority, comprising experts from different walks of life.

Some of the members pointed that with over 100 television channels showing programmes in India and more than 40 million cable TV homes in the country, the government should strengthen its monitoring network to keep an eye on what all was being shown to the people at large.

Concern was also expressed on the pitiable portrayal of women in the entertainment programmes, which was creating an impression that efforts were not being made to empower women.

(The government is so taken up with the so-called vulgarity on the small screen that it has not even thought of the regressive portrayal of women in many of the soaps.)

Meanwhile, Prasad also mentioned the popularity of Doordarshan's newly relaunched 24-hour news channel, which, he said, was a testimony to the fact that Indian viewers were interested in serious content and efforts have to be made by all concerned to cater to this need of the viewers.

Those who attended the Consultative Committee meeting today included Hannan Mollah, Ajay Maroo, A.A..Shaheen, Pritish Nandy, E.M.Sudarsana Natchiappan and Balkavi Bairagi.

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