Sunday, September 10, 2006

"Adult Content" on TV

Over the past few weeks, there has been a big hue and cry over "adult content" on television, leading to suspension of services by certain Cable Operators ONLY in Mumbai (Ha!)

Apparently a PIL (Public Interest Litigation, for the uninitiated) had been filed by a concerned citizen over the nature of "adult content" being shown on TV and the High Courts promptly ruled (surprising how they can make decisions on some issues much faster) that Cable operators have to discontinue showing films with "Adult" certification.

As usual, the general fracas followed ... public outrage, self-appointed moralists going on a rampage, police being authorised to seize equipment of defaulting operators, operators in turn accusing channels for being responsible for content ... etc, etc.

Definition of Adult Content
From the Press reports it seems that only foreign films with an "A" certification are "adult content."

Hindi films like "Gangajal" (*ing Ajay Devgan) continue to be broadcast. So do Reality shows like "America's Top Model", warped soaps like "Kasauti Zindagi..." and lifestyle channels like FTV and VH1 continue, while ONLY HBO and Star Movies are still off the air !

With due respect, I don't think the issue has really been addressed by the PIL. I don't think we have gotten to the root of what is adult content.

Not that I am an expert at this ... but in a very layman way ... I would define adult content as that which is unsuitable for children to watch for the reason that they may not comprehend the intracacies, nuances or implications. I would rather prefer the term "mature content."

Children, and maybe even preteens, are not really able to grasp or understand certain issues ... like maybe Gay marriages ... but yet are "exposed" to these. Short-sighted people (and I'm not talking about the ones who are literally short-sighted), would like to generalise .. that all "mature content" = PORNOGRAPHY ! The truth couldn't be further away !!

In my opinion, it would have been more appropriate for the Courts to rope in educationists, psychologists and counsellors to first define what constitues "mature content" .. and could then have referred this issue to the already existing Censor Board to take appropriate steps in implementing some kind of compliance.

This typical knee-jerk reaction to populist issues should be avoided.

The Courts have enough on their plate ... the Mumbai Bomb Blast case decision is still pending (inspite of being put on a fast-track special court).

Shooting the Messenger for the Message !
Also, why are Cable Operators responsible? They are merely transporting the signal to end customers.

It's like saying VSNL and MTNL and other ISPs should have their equipment confiscated as there is pornographic material available on various websites !!

Cellphone operators like Hutch, BPL, Airtel should have their towers pulled down ... as they can also carry "unsuitable" material.

Also, I don't see the ASCI (Advertisements Council of india) suspending the newspaper publications for inappropriate or misleading advertisements ...

And while we're on bashing the messengers ... how come DTH operators like Dish TV and Tata Sky ... were excluded from the witch-hunt ? ... Maybe because the police (and/or the Courts) didn't know how to take action against them !!

Individual Rights
Why can't an adult individual be able to go and watch whatever he/she pleases ?

I'm not advocating free uncontrolled public broadcast of mature content ! But yes, just like an adult individual has the right (?) to access mature content over the internet, he/she must be allowed access to mature programming ... and as I mentioned, mature programming DOES NOT always mean pornographic material !

Maybe the implementation of the CAS could actually be hastened, as this would mean that adults could "password protect" certain inappropriate channels and thereby control the access of their children to certain channels that they deem inappropriate for their own children.

Put the control in the hands of the parents themselves. We need to have enough faith in the parenting system and the institution of the family to "self-regulate" what the children of the house watch.

Once a generic law has been laid down and general guidelines given to the Censor Boards ... why do we need the self-appointed moralists, the Courts, the Cable Operators or the Channels to separately regulate our viewing options?

Having put a sensible system in place, let the market forces determine who will watch what - and put a NGO-type autonomous watchdog in place - where the public can refer such issues to ... very much like the ASCI or the CGSI (Consumer Guidance Society of India).

In any case, most advertisements brazenly target children when they really shouldn't be doing that either.

Of all the places .. off-air in Mumbai !
This is a real joke .. only Cable operators in Mumbai faced the brunt ! So according to the learned courts and implementation authorities .. only the children in Mumbai city need to kept away from "adult content."

And the rest of Maharashtra .. and the rest of India can continue to watch all this uninterrupted ! Ha !

Speaks volumes for what the courts think about the quality of parenting in Mumbai ... and I object to this as it is a personal attack on even my parenting skills !

The parents in Orissa, Jharkhand and even Solapur are apparently doing a better job than the parents in Mumbai city ... for the courts to have banned HBO and Star Movies only here .. and left things open for the rest of the country !

Maybe we parents of Mumbai city need to get together and give them a piece of our mind!

Well ... and that's how I feel ...


pitfinder said...

I live in the US, and if you wanted to protect children from "adult content" you would have to eliminate most of the news these days.

MsMRC said...

I am amazed that I never came across your blog on rediff or blogspot till now...even more amazed to find someone who echos long held opinions of mine or vice versa...and coincidentally, even I maintain a duplicate blog here on blogspot:)
its at

Keep up the good work!(typical teacher like remark...I am one;)

SNO said...

Aah .. great minds think alike !

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