TV reality shows content causes concern in regulatory body
Posted on: 21 Jul 2012
New Delhi: Live insects being eaten to show courage, double-entendres and 'jokes' demeaning to women, and children taking part in reality shows - these are among the issues on which the Broadcasting Content Complaints Council (BCCC), an independent self-regulatory body for non-news TV channels, is to issue advisories to television channels.
The BCCC at a meeting on July 13 approved issuance of advisories to all member channels of the Indian Broadcasting Foundation (IBF) on three subjects: Depiction of animals/wildlife in television programmes, on award functions, and participation of children in TV reality shows.
It said that entertainment channels, particularly those airing reality shows, 'are exhibiting content that is extremely harmful to animals. Not only are animals hurt and killed before, during and post filming, in many cases animals, especially reptilian and wild mammalian, are depicted as cruel and fearful, when in fact they are placed in unnatural environments, and their natural behaviour is repressed.'
It said such depiction led to wrong impressions being created and 'unfortunate myths spread. For instance, live insects are eaten to show courage in a manner that is distasteful and not conducive to health.'
'A few channels have a reality show in which animals are killed week after week and animal parts such as sheep eyeballs and worms eaten in order to show bravery. What is also disturbing is that some channels rope in popular movie stars in serials in which animals are depicted, and project their being stalked; teased; tails being pulled at; food being pulled away, etc., i.e. veritable torture of animals as an 'act of bravery'.'
It said TV channels should not produce, support the production of, purchase and broadcast content 'that is in any way harmful to the health and well being, as well as the depiction, of any animal or species' as it was against the rules of the Indian Broadcasting Foundation.
With regard to award functions, the BCCC said it has received several complaints relating to the telecast of film award functions and shows and found that many of the shows 'feature vulgar dialogues, double-entendres and smutty puns from the anchors. Sometimes, the content of the so-called jokes is demeaning to women and other communities'.
It said if the content of such shows is to include adult humour, it should be telecast after 11 p.m.
It advised all channels to refrain from airing any content that is demeaning to women and other communities.
On the participation of children in reality shows and similar programmes, the BCCC advised IBF member channels to strictly adhere to and comply with the 'Guidelines to Regulate Child Participation in TV Serials, Reality Shows and Advertisements 2010-2011' issued by the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR), the statement said.
The BCCC's mandate is to implement the 'Self-Regulatory Guidelines and Complaints Redressal Mechanism' for all non-news channels, including general entertainment, children and special interest channels. The guidelines have been drawn up after wide-ranging consultations. Justice (Retd.) A.P. Shah chairs the 13-member BCCC.
The council's members include actor-activist Shabana Azmi, Bhaskar Ghose (former Secretary, I&B), and Wajahat Habibullah (National Commission for Minorities) among others.