Fashion fraternity’s favourite channel Fashion TV will go off air for 10 days starting April 1. This will make it the fifth channel this year to be taken off air on complaints of nudity, while similar action against six more channels have been recommended by a government panel. Last year, only one channel was asked to be taken off air.
Interestingly, it will be the third time that FTV channel has been banned by the government for showing female nudity. In all the three instances, its popular programme Midnight Hot was at centre of trouble; Information and Broadcasting Ministry had to impose two-month ban in March 2007, 10-day ban in March 2010 and now another 10-day handed out to it on March 28, 2013.
This time, ministry found programmes—Midnight Haute and Lingerie—particularly offensive. “The programme ‘Lingerie’ featuring various models showcasing varieties of lingerie, show models wearing undergarments of such variety that their buttocks get fully exposed. Such visuals appear obscene and indecent,” ministry’s order added.
While, the debate between artistic freedom and moral policing continue to rage, entertainment channels have been coming under criticism from various watchdogs, particularly on their portrayal of women.
A recap of complaints in past a few years reveals it’s mostly the advertisements of deodorants, adult-rated movies, reality shows or reruns of popular English series that have attracted penal action for violating ‘programming code’ laid down by the ministry. “Over 800 channels vying for attention among television viewers to claim a pie of advertising revenue only tend to blur the boundaries between vulgarity and creative expression,” ministry officials said. The government is keen to appoint broadcasting regulator, a move vehemently opposed by the channels.
Most of the complaints go to entertainment channel’s self-regulating bodies, like the Broadcast Content Complaints Council, the ones where the violation has been severe and repetitive action is taken. While, the ministry received 137 complaints pertaining to vulgarity since 2010, Justice AP Shah (retired)-led BCCC received over 8,600 complaints in the past one year till December last.
Channels in their replies to the inter-ministerial committee claim that offending visuals were telecast due to technological lapses or oversight of lower-rung staffer. FTV in its reply argued for artistic expression, but agreed that local laws will have to be adhered to.