afaqs!

Should prime time television stay away from movies like The Dirty Picture?

By Anindita Sarkar , afaqs!, Mumbai | In Media Publishing | April 27, 2012
Despite 59 cuts to get a U/A certificate and heavy pre-telecast publicity, Sony was forced to shelve the screening of The Dirty Picture at the last minute. Was the move justified?

Pawan Jailkhani

Saikrishna Rajagopal

Pawan Jailkhani
EVP, revenue, 9X Media Group

This is a strange move by the censorship board. Sony had been promoting The Dirty Picture for more than a month. There have been teaser promos, normal promos and branded promos with clients. If the channel was publicly announcing (along with the advertisers and brands on board) that it would air the movie on two slots during the day, I am sure that it must have taken the requisite permissions.

Surely, there must have been some crisis, which we don't know about. It is unfortunate because such abrupt decisions most definitely impact viewership, as a general entertainment channel is all about appointment viewing and people build their viewing habits according to the promos.

Also, the brands and advertisers plan things accordingly because investments are huge with such big titles. And now, the whole thing goes waste. There have been high rotational promos and that's why the premium was paid on the whole package of pre- and post-promotion, including promos aired during the IPL matches, and not just slots. It is a huge revenue opportunity lost.

Saikrishna Rajagopal
managing partner, Saikrishna & Associates

The order passed by a division bench (Lucknow bench) of the Allahabad high court merely directs the government to ensure that the telecast of The The Dirty Picture by Sony Entertainment does not result in the violation of the programme code stipulated in the Cable Television Network Rules (CTNR), 1994.

The order does not direct that the movie must not be broadcast or even direct a change in telecast timing. The order was passed on the basis of a submission by the petitioner that the Censor Board had granted an 'A' certification and yet, the movie was scheduled for telecast during prime time.

I understand that the film was granted a 'U/A' certification for television, meaning that the only restriction that could have been imposed is the prescription of parental guidance for viewing by children who are below 12 years.

Unless the certification by the Censor Board was of category 'A', there was no preclusion, either under the CTNR or by virtue of the order of the high court, from telecasting the film during prime time, with the caveat of parental guidance.

Hema Malik

K Satyanarayana

Hema Malik
vice-president, LodestarUM

I think it was a wise decision to hold the airing of the movie. The movie anyway loses its impact with so many cuts.

Also, don't forget, it would not have been an appropriate content to show on prime time as the subject of the movie itself is for the mature audience. However, one cannot deny the fact that this last minute wake-up call from the CBFC led to a lot of monetary loss for Sony.

Apart from investing in the acquisition of the movie, the channel also spent heavily to promote and market the property. As far as the viewers and advertisers are concerned, there is of course an emotional disappointment but there is no monetary loss and neither do they feel cheated by the channel.

Sony could undo a part of this monetary damage by airing an unedited version of the movie on a late night slot to give both the audience and the movie its due.

K Satyanarayana
vice-president, R K SWAMY Media Group

The fact that the film had to go through so many cuts shows that it is not suitable for kids. Therefore, the telecast rules apply.

It is also to do with the title, which arouses curiosity and expectation levels. It is not just to do with visual depiction, but also to do with the dialogue and the gestures that go with the scenes. I have not seen the movie yet. But, after hearing the rave reviews and the awards and acclaim it has been getting, I don't mind seeing it.

If there is a guideline that all adult content should be shown on TV after 11 pm, then that is applicable to everything. It is another matter that I&B ministry should have given the directive earlier.

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