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Strip threat to entertainment - Delhi to Mumbai, morality police and cops on the prowl

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  • Published 17.02.05

Mumbai, Feb. 17: Even before the world of entertainment has found new legs to stand on after Negar Khan?s deportation, morality police and Mumbai police have joined hands to strip it of flesh and blood.

The police here had put channels on notice, apparently after a wave of complaints from the public. ?We issued a notice to six television channels under Section 19 of the Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Act,? said Sanjay Apranti, deputy commissioner of police, enforcement branch.

Today, the police claimed that the channels had lined up to respond in a ?positive manner? to the showcause on airing of ?obscenity?. Concern straddles the capitals of commerce and politics. Yesterday in Delhi, the Union information and broadcasting ministry organised a workshop to discuss the ?vulgarity and violence? spreading across the small screen.

In the presence of the minister, S. Jaipal Reddy, and Censor Board chairperson Sharmila Tagore, the television community agreed that there was a need to ?self-regulate?.

Apranti said notices were issued to CVO, B4U, ETC, ETV, STAR TV and MTV on February 2. ?We asked the channels not to exhibit programmes that were obscene or denigrated women.?

Two of the channels, MTV and ETC, have already responded, saying ?they appreciated the move?. But both have told the police that standards must be uniform for the industry. If a programme or item is withdrawn by one channel, it should not be aired on another.

The police said the notice did not mention any particular programme or video, but much of the drive is directed at ?obscene remixes? and certain ?adult? programmes.

It is not clear, however, if the morality drive will lead to Chadti Jawani ? the Negar number ? settling down to acceptable levels. Though the channels have promised to co-operate, MTV said it had done nothing wrong.

In response to the showcause ?that we have received ?please note that all the songs and videos listed in the notice have received certification from the Censor board,? said MTV Networks, India.

It added that as a ?responsible? broadcaster, it has kept in view local rules, public taste and morality. ?We have in the past, and continue to, stringently adhere to the Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Act, 1995.?

While it was not known if anyone had objected to the remixes Chadti Jawani and Mere piya gaye Rangoon ? featuring Mumait Khan and widely known to a be a hot number ? Apranti said the police had received complaints against various programmes.

?We were forced to send the notices because of the huge number of applications.? He could not put a number to the applications received over a period of time, but said they kept piling up.

?We received an application just now. They mostly complain about the fact that certain programmes cannot be watched with other members of the family,? he added.

The just-received complaint mentions a programme on a lifestyle channel that is ?devoted to solving sex problems?. The letter, written by an organisation, alleges that the programme, in the name of ?sex education? and ?reality?, is promoting sex among unmarried people and describing the sexual act in graphic detail.

Not the small screen alone. Mumbai police have also tried to stop nudity in mostly B-grade or small-budget films.

?We registered offences for display of obscene material in public against the makers of films like Tezaab, Kamakshi and Model,? said Apranti.

Official action against ?obscenity? in films or on TV has taken place in fits and starts. Sushma Swaraj, when she was information minister, had cracked down on FTV.

If this time there is sustained heat, entertainment as it is known in today?s India may have to head towards Rangoon. Mumait Khan may follow.