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Advisory to channels on superstitious content

The BCCC advisory, which followed complaints from viewers, is set to spark a debate on freedom of expression.  

Women as witches, practitioners of black magic and exorcism on television programmes, have to be banished from prime time following a strong advisory that went out on Thursday from the Broadcasting Content Complaints Council (BCCC), a self-regulatory body established by broadcasters.

The advisory is likely to set off a debate on freedom of expression and portrayal of women on television on the one hand, while raising concerns about content control by an independent regulator.

The BCCC directive was sent out to channels following complaints from viewers on superstitious content.

The advisory is binding on all entertainment channels. The Council was prompted to examine the contents of ZEE, Colours, Sun TV, and MAA TV and advised them to exercise caution while putting out programmes on occult, superstitions, black magic, exorcism, witchcraft, especially in the portrayal of women in a negative manner on air.

Justice (retired) Mukul Mudgal, who heads the self-regulatory body, told The Hindu that these programmes were getting too frequent on the channels. When contacted, the channels said they were in the process of examining the advisory.

The move by the BCCC comes close on the heels of similar observations made recently by Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah who said that astrology should be banned from channels.

Interestingly, the Council steered clear of astrology.

The advisory reads: “While respecting the channels’ creative liberties, the Council believes that such portrayal should not be exaggerated and, therefore, considers it desirable to lay down certain guidelines for broadcasters and content creators.”

“Should any such depiction become absolutely necessary in line with the story, the channel must run a scroll during its telecast, disapproving of any such practice.”

ZEE, Colours, Sun TV, and MAA TV asked to be cautious with occult programmes