‘They are not suitable for unrestricted public exhibition, especially at prime-time'
In what could be a nascent move towards a compulsory time band for adult programming, the government has directed that two shows guilty of vulgarity and abusive language — Bigg Boss and Rakhi ka Insaaf — be aired only between 11 p.m. and 5 a.m.
While reality show Bigg Boss is telecast on the Colors channel, Rakhi ka Insaaf, compered by actress and item girl Rakhi Sawant, is aired on NDTV Imagine.
In its official order issued on Tuesday, the Information and Broadcasting Ministry noted that the contents of the shows were “not suitable for unrestricted public exhibition, especially at prime-time when a large number of children are watching television.”
The decision was taken after Monday's meeting of an inter-ministerial committee investigated complaints against the programmes.
While the government has played censor before and suspended or even banned shows and channels, I&B officials say this is the first time a move has been taken to compulsorily move a show to a late-night time band in an attempt to protect child viewers.
The shift is to take place from Wednesday onwards, and the channels have been told to run a scroll on the screen during the telecast announcing that the content is not suitable for children. The shows must not be repeated on any other time slots, and news channels are being warned not to carry clips in their bulletins.
The government has also warned channels to modify their content to comply with the programme code under the Cable Television Network (Regulation) Act, 1995.
The Ministry has also banned South Indian channel SS Music for a period of seven days for showing visuals which were “obscene and vulgar” and “appeared to denigrate women.”
Bigg Boss, which is in its fourth season, is a reality show that locks up minor celebrities together in a house for a certain duration, with multiple cameras capturing their every movement. It has been indicted for content which “offends against good taste or decency,” with participants “often shown quarrelling in the programme and using abusive language.”
Interestingly, agencies report that the show evicted participants Dolly Bindra and Sameer Soni on Wednesday for breaking rules, abusive verbal duels and indulging in indecent behaviour. This comes on the same day that American actress and model Pamela Anderson entered the Bigg Boss house for a three-day stint, which has provoked further controversy.
Ms. Sawant's use of vulgar and abusive language as the host of Rakhi ka Insaaf has been slammed by the I&B Ministry.
It also noted that “participants often reveal intimate details of their relationships, resulting in great embarrassment to the viewers watching the programme along with their families and also to the participants in the show.”
The show landed in controversy after one participant whom Ms. Sawant had called “impotent” on the show, allegedly sunk into depression and died, for which his family members blamed the host.