Certain scenes in Sex and the City do not fit into the Indian system of values, complains I&B Ministry

Amid the raging debate over regulation of the media, television regulatory body Broadcasting Content Complaints Council has levied financial penalties on two channels for “transgression of programming codes and ethics”.

Acting on the complaint of the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, the BCCC — headed by former Delhi High Court Chief Justice A.P. Shah — has cracked the whip on Big CBS Love and Big CBS Spark.

Complaining about eight episodes of the popular series Sex and the City, the ministry said the Big CBS Love show contained graphic depiction of sexual intercourse, suggestive expressions, and “indecent” intimacy that did not fit into the “Indian composite system of values”.

It also objected to two other shows — America’s Next Top Model and Britain’s Next Top Model — for their depiction of nudity and “obscenity”. In one instance, the ministry’s objection, as summarised by the BCCC, was that “showing two women half-naked and in some shots cuddling each other in an indecent way is unpleasant”.

The BCCC said it was “shocked” to see certain clips from the shows and said they violated the Indian Broadcasting Foundation’s Self Regulatory Guidelines as well as Programming Code. The channel’s initial defence was that as the shows were “niche” and for a “select audience”, the norms may not strictly apply to them. It then attributed some problems with its Standards and Practices Department. But eventually, the BCCC — using its new-acquired powers allowing it to impose levies of up to Rs.30 lakh — fined the channel Rs.10 lakh.

It has also instructed the channel to carry an apology every two hours for seven days.

The regulator also found the lyrics of rap song ‘No Lie’, telecast on CBS Spark, “inappropriate”, and “grossly offensive to good taste and decency”. It rejected the channel’s defence, fined it Rs.2,50,000 and instructed it to run an apology for three days — two hours each day.

Sources in the industry have told The Hindu in the past that it is important for the government and the regulator to appreciate the “diversity of the Indian audiences”. A senior manager at a private channel, who did not want to be named as he “did not want to object to the regulator in public”, said: “This kind of moral policing is excessive. Treat viewers as adults, capable of taking decisions of what they want to watch and being responsible about it.”