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National Award-winning film, The Dirty Picture was scheduled to be telecast on 22 April 2012, Sunday at 12 noon and again at 8 pm. However, a directive from the Information and Broadcast Ministry led to the cancellation of the above shows asking it to be telecasted after 11 pm.
The culture of our country has been such that the entire family sits together for dinner while watching TV. Therefore, during this primetime viewing there arises a greater need to curate the content of the shows being aired. Maybe, an adapted version of the movie could have worked fine with the censor board. The major issue that prevented its primetime screening would be the theme of the movie which itself is not suitable for teens and preteens. Well, this gives fuel to a fantastic debate that in this age and time where TV and print are shackled by chains of censorship but Internet and mobile content, where most teens and preteens spend their time, is oblivious to any such bounding.
Cinema through its ratings (A, U/A) warns you about the content that you are about to watch and helps you to make a choice beforehand. But when it comes to Internet, there’s little censorship that exists.
The solution lies in self-regulation. Content creators should be sensitive and careful to create content as per the audience accessing it. The mediums, themselves dictate you certain dos and don’ts and all content creators are regular players wanting their audiences to like them. Content creators on the Web and mobile mediums should be responsible themselves as to what to show and what to withhold from their viewers. This kind of self-responsibility cannot be imposed but has to come from within.
When it comes to censoring online content, five bodies can do that, namely: Content Creator, Channel, Government, Parents and Viewer’s discretion. All the above bodies have to work in tandem to self-regulate. Channels and shows cannot afford to be hated by the viewers by crossing the line of sexuality, aggression etc.
Agreed, that it’s a free society we live in today but if self-realization doesn’t occur now, we’ll soon end up as China and various Islamic countries which are extremely restricted markets. One cannot put hardened rules everywhere, and at the end of it, even rules have to be self-imposed for the greater good of the society. For the movement to catch fire, the spark has to be ignited from within.
The author is National Creative Director, Leo Burnett