POV: Do crime shows on TV trivialise trauma?

By Raushni Bhagia , afaqs!, New Delhi | In Media Publishing | January 14, 2013
In the wake of the protests and stir around the Delhi gang rape case, the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting has restrained the general entertainment channels from telecasting anything related to the issue. The latest episode of Sony's crime thriller, Crime Patrol, which was to feature a dramatised version of the case, has also been barred. Should GECs stay away from sensitive current issues?

For the second time in the last 10 months, Sony Entertainment Television, the GEC from the MSM stable, has been asked to axe one of its primetime properties.

In April 2012, the channel faced issues with the television premier of the much-hyped movie, The Dirty Picture. Now, the channel has been stopped from telecasting the episodes of Crime Patrol scheduled for January 11 and 12.

Crime Patrol features real incidents in dramatised forms. The two controversial episodes were based on the Delhi gang-rape case, which led to prolonged protests and clamour for a change in laws.

Janardhan Pandey

Prem Kamath

Shripad Kulkarni

Gerald Roche

The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting has, however, advised the channel to not air the show and has also restricted the other entertainment channels from featuring the episode in any way.

Should GECs avoid picking up sensitive issues for primetime viewing?

Janardhan Pandey, AVP, DDB MudraMax, Media

The matter has already been extensively televised nationally and internationally. At this stage, such a directive is illogical as it serves no purpose. Crime Patrol showcases real stories with an aim to educate and alert viewers to such situations. The gagging of the Delhi gang rape episode is defeatist in nature.

It must also be noted that it's a topical and burning issue but is no longer sensitive. Newspapers, TV channels and social media have already normalised the sensation in it. I am of the view that it's good to let the truth reach a wider audience through GECs so as to ignite the social change that we are talking about. It's no more a news story; rather, it's the story of a nation, its health and character.

Prem Kamath, channel head, Channel V

Personally, I feel that if it is telecast on national television, it should be with the greater common interest in mind. Otherwise, leveraging an incident like this for entertainment would be a little exploitative.

As to ifit is okay to show such content or not, it would entirely depend on the treatment. If the focus is on education and not sensationalism, then it is a good programming step. However, if the approach is sensational, it would be best avoided.

Shripad Kulkarni, CEO, Allied Media

I think it is preferable that the GECs stay away from this content for now.

Ultimately, TV shows area a shorter form of movies. Like movies, they need to take some liberties as they are squarely success-driven, and everything else follows!

The current atmosphere is surcharged and what is shown on the series and how it is handled needs some serious thought. It deserves a concerted and visionary treatment and would serve no purpose otherwise. We need to first deal with myriad facets of the issue before it is, if I may say with due respect to the producer and channel, trivialised into a TV series.

Gerald Roche, vice-president, buying, Madison Media Infinity

General entertainment channels focus on and address women and family related issues through their regular shows and Crime Patrol, in particular, has featured many cases of crimes against women.

The Delhi gang rape was barbaric, brutal and tragic. And, while topical content on GECs is a good idea, sensitivity is called for, especially in this case.

The I&B ministry's advice is therefore sound since at this time we need to focus on the law handing out exemplary punishments to the depraved perpetrators of this crime, before we air a TV episode about it.

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