Also issues advisories on participation of children in reality shows and insensitivity to animals in shows
BestMediaInfo Bureau | Delhi | July 23, 2012
At its 15th meeting held on July 13, 2012, the Broadcasting Content Complaints Council (BCCC), the independent self-regulatory body for non-news television channels, approved the issuance of advisories on three issues for the benefit of all member channels of Indian Broadcasting Foundation (IBF). The issues are telecast of award functions, participation of children in reality shows and similar programmes, and depiction of animals/wildlife in TV programmes.
Telecast of award functions: On reviewing the complaints relating to the telecast of film award functions and shows, BCCC has found that many of these shows feature vulgar dialogues, double-entendres and smutty puns from the anchors. Sometimes, the content of the so-called jokes is demeaning to women and other communities.
With no intention to censor the shows, which are, after all, live events, BCCC has advised that if the content is to include adult humour, then the telecast of these shows should only begin after 11 PM. Nor should any repeats be broadcast before 11 PM.
Participation of children in reality shows: After wide-ranging discussions, BCCC has advised all IBF member channels to strictly adhere to and comply with the ‘Guidelines to Regulate Child Participation in TV Serials, Reality Shows and Advertisements 2010-2011’ issued by the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR).
Depiction of Animals/Wildlife in TV shows: There is a growing availability of television content featuring animals, domestic and wild. Besides, there are also several lifestyle channels that feature pet programmes. Most of the content on these channels is designed to educate the viewer about habitats, extinction threat, humane training and treatment. Such programming merits active encouragement to make people understand the benefits of preserving the environment, species and so on.
However, many of the general interest entertainment channels, in particular those airing reality shows, are exhibiting content that is extremely harmful to animals. Not only are animals hurt and killed before, during and post filming, in many cases animals, especially reptilian and wild mammalian, are depicted as cruel and fearful, when in fact they are placed in unnatural environments, and their natural behaviour is repressed. Wrong impressions are thus created and unfortunate myths spread.
For instance, live insects are eaten to show courage in a manner that is distasteful and not conducive to health. A few channels have a reality show in which animals are killed week after week and animal parts such as sheep eyeballs and worms eaten in order to show bravery. What is also disturbing is that some channels rope in popular movie stars in serials in which animals are depicted, and project their being stalked, teased, tails being pulled at, food being pulled away, etc., which amount to veritable torture of animals as an ‘act of bravery’.
BCCC has cautioned that animals must not continue to be exploited for human entertainment, especially when we live in an enlightened age that recognises the value of all species in a universal ecosystem. Responsible television content can and must go a long way in depicting animals and the environment in a manner that is healthy for the planet.
BCCC has advised television channels not to produce, support the production of, purchase and broadcast content that is in any way harmful to the health and well being as well as the depiction of any animal or species. All such content is not suitable for public viewing, according to the IBF’s Content Code & Certification Rules, 2011.
“The code of conduct for advertising agencies and film production prescribed by the Animal Welfare Board of India pertaining to the use of performing animals is also applicable to broadcast media,” according to the BCCC advisory.