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BCCC levies financial penalties on Big CBS channels

By afaqs! news bureau , afaqs!, Mumbai | In Media Publishing | August 19, 2013
The complaints council also issued two advisories to television broadcasters for showing content sensitivity in cases of acid attacks and programming related to minorities.

On Wednesday, August 14, the Broadcast Content Complaints Council (BCCC), a committee under the Indian Broadcast Foundation (IBF) issued strict advisories to two Big CBS channels. Fines were levied on both the channels for showing 'grossly offensive content'. The channels have also been asked to run an apology scroll for the same.

Big CBS Love

Big CBS Spark

The complainant in these cases was the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting, which alleged that the content violated a few clauses of the 'Programme Code' and a few guidelines of 'Theme 2: Sex, Obscenity and Nudity' of the IBF Self Regulatory Guidelines.

It must be noted that this is the first time that the council has taken an action involving fine against any channel. The council geared up in January, when Sony Entertainment Television had planned to telecast a dramatization of the Delhi gang-rape case. Then came the first order from the content regulation body.

The decision to levy a fine came on the back of the IBF Board of Directors authorising the council to levy financial penalty on a channel, subject to a maximum of Rs 30 lakh.

In the current matter, Big CBS Spark was found showing vulgar content during the telecast of the rap song 'No Lie' by rappers No Chainz and Drake at 23:19 hours on May 2, 2013.

The council watched the said rap song pertaining to the complaint and issued a notice to the channel. In its reply, the channel argued that being a niche channel, the content is watched by a select audience only. Therefore, the norms and guidelines may not be strictly applied to these programmes.

The channel's representatives appeared before the council on July 10, 2013. It may, in fact, be mentioned that the channel did not even press the above defence at the time of the hearing, and rather stated some problem with its S&P (Standards & Practices) department. The channel said it has now restructured its S&P department and therefore, such violations would not occur in the future.

The council was not persuaded by the reasons advanced by the channel. The problem with the S&P department did not absolve the channel of its responsibility, said the council, and therefore imposed a financial penalty of Rs 2,50,000 to be deposited on or before September, 19.

In addition, an apology scroll needs to be run at normal speed, every two hours, over a period of three days, from 12 noon on Sunday, August 25 to 10 am on Wednesday, August 28.

In another matter related to Big CBS Love, the telecast of programmes 'Sex and the City' (episodes shown on April 7, 9, 10, 11, 17, 21, 23 and 29), 'America's Next Top Model' (the March 20 episode) and 'Britain's Next Top Model' (April 15 episode) were found objectionable.

While Sex and the City is a fiction sitcom, the other two shows are model talent hunt shows. The council suggested that there have been repeated complaints against the channel as well as the said programmes. The clips revealed that the programmes clearly are in gross violation of IBF's Self Regulatory Guidelines as well as the Programme Code.

In the light of the above, the council has decided to impose a consolidated financial penalty of Rs 10 lakh (Rs 10,00,000) on the channel, to be deposited by September, 15. Further, the council directed the channel to run an apology scroll at normal speed, every two hours, over a period of seven days, from 12 noon on Saturday, August 24 to 10 am on Saturday, August 31.

Along with the orders for financial penalty, the complaint council also issued two advisories to the television broadcasters for showing content sensitivity in cases of acid attacks and programming related to minorities.

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