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MIB orders WB to stop transmission for one day

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NEW DELHI: It seems the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting (MIB) keeps a close watch on channels that don’t follow the guidelines set for them. That is what is evident from a recent incident where the Ministry has cracked its whip on the international movie channel, WB (Warner Brothers). The Ministry has prohibited the transmission or retransmission of the of WB TV channel for one day throughout India later this month as a penalty for telecasting a V/UA certified film It’s a Boy Girl Thing on 7 January, 2013 at 11.51 am.

The prohibition on any platform throughout India will be with effect from 00.01 am on 24 January till 00.01 am on 25 January.

The action has been taken under in exercise of the powers conferred by sub-section (2) & (3) of Section 20 of the Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Act 1995 and under paras 6.1 and 6.2 of the Guidelines for Downlinking from India.

The Ministry had issued a notice to the channel on 20 August last year as the telecast appeared to violate late Rule 6(l) (a), 6 (tXd), 6(l) (k) 6(l)(o) & 6 (5) of the Cable Television Networks Rules 1994 under the Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Act 1995 and the channel was asked to show cause within fifteen days.

While asking for a personal opportunity to explain their position, M/s Turner International India, the parent company of WB channel, in their reply of 2 September said it was not aware about the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) suggesting 15 voluntary cuts and l6 compulsory cuts in the film until the Ministry issued the notice. It further said all content telecast on the channel was reviewed by its Standards and Practice Department which had very strict mechanism to ensure that only appropriate material was played out in accordance with Indian requirements.

Turner further said that immediately upon receipt of the notice, the channel withdrew and stopped all further telecast of the film and indicated that the channel was willing to re-apply to the CBFC for re-certification of the film and would not telecast the same until a certificate was obtained by the CBFC. Furthermore, it said the CBFC Certificate available with it contained only the compulsory cuts without any reference to the voluntary cuts and that it had not questioned the completeness of the Censor Certificate and had made the edition and cuts based on the belief that the Censor Certificate available with them was the only, valid and complete Censor Certificate issued by the CBFC.

In the personal hearing given by the Inter-Ministerial Committee, the Turner representative issued an unconditional apology for airing the film with offensive content on television and admitted that it was a mistake on the part of their programme team. The Committee previewed the CD containing the film, considered the reply of the channel and the personal submissions made by the representative of the channel.

The Committee held that the channel had clearly violated the provisions of the Programme Code and observed that this kind of violation of the provisions of the 1995 Act and Rules framed there under was not acceptable. Though the channel had accepted their fault and apologised for their mistake, ‘they cannot escape the responsibility of ensuring that the content on their channel is in conformity with the Programme Code at all times. Moreover, before telecasting any film due diligence has to be done by the channel to assure that only certified version fully compliant with all necessary and voluntary deletions/editions is aired.

The Ministry said the film telecast by the channel shows ‘highly objectionable visuals which denigrate Women’.

‘The Visuals shown are very offensive and obscene as the private parts of male and female are focused upon. The portrayal of the sex change is in bad taste and is indecent. The visuals are not fit to be viewed by children and also not suitable for unrestricted public exhibition. These visuals also denigrate women,’ remarks the notice.

Rule 6 (1) (a) of the Programme Code contained in the Cable Television Networks Rules, 1994 provides that no programme should be carried in the Cable Service which offends good taste or decency. Rule 6 (l) (d) provides that no programme should be carried in the Cable Service which contains anything obscene, defamatory, deliberate, false and suggestive innuendos and half truth. Rule 6 (l) (K) provides that no programme should be carried in the Cable Service which denigrates women through the depiction in any manner of the figure of a women, her form or body or any part thereof in such a way as to have the effect of being indecent or derogatory to women. Rule 6 (l) (o) & 6 (5) provides that no programme should be carried in the Cable Service which is not suitable for unrestricted public exhibition and children viewing'.

In view of the apology by the channel and its reply, the Committee recommended the prohibition of the transmission/re-transmission of the channel throughout India for one day.

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