| Code caution: The Centre has asked channels to follow norms for advertisements and programmes
New Delhi, Dec. 5: The government has asked the fashion television channel, Trendz, to stop showing topless women in its programmes.
Two years ago, when Sushma Swaraj was the Union information and broadcasting minister, a direction to another channel, FTV, to be more restrained led to a row. Swaraj was alleged to be playing flesh police by liberal critics while others said she was doing good by forcing foreign channels to design programmes for conservative Indian audiences.
Swaraj’s successor and current I&B minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, however, has decided to strike a balance as much as possible. Under Prasad, the ministry has dashed off letters to several channels reminding them of the code for advertisements and programmes that broadcasters are urged to follow.
In the case of Trendz, the ministry’s attention was drawn to one particular late-night programme called Fashion Uncensored. The programme is mostly a lingerie show that claims to showcase underwear for women. Trendz is a pay channel on the Zee/Siticable bouquet.
A ministry official said a representative of the channel had explained its position. The channel has also written saying it will adhere to the programme code and will follow it up by confirming that it has carried out alterations.
The official said Prasad had instructed the ministry to monitor television content without getting involved unless called for. The clarification follows fears within the television industry after the ministry wrote to all broadcasters last month reminding them of the existence of the programme code and that they were expected to follow it.
“The government does not want to be seen as indifferent. Neither does it want to get too involved in these matters. We are only urging broadcasters to self-regulate,” the official said.
Under the existing code, films beamed on television (in Indian channels) must have “U” (universal) classification from the Central Board of Film Certification. The ministry believes that most foreign movie channels such as STAR Movies and HBO edit their programmes for television audiences in any case and therefore do not call for immediate regulation.
The ministry has also begun consultations on whether it is feasible to formulate rules on late-night programming. A query from Sony television has prompted the ministry to ask the company for its proposal on what kind of classification could be done.