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I&B Ministry issues notice to channel over satire show taking a dig at PM

🔴 The complaint against the Tamil reality show – ‘Junior Super Stars Season 4’ – said the programme contained “obnoxious” comments against the Prime Minister and wanted it taken off air.

Written by Arun Janardhanan | Chennai |
Updated: January 19, 2022 12:28:55 pm
The complaint against the Tamil reality show – ‘Junior Super Stars Season 4’ – said the programme contained “obnoxious” comments against the Prime Minister and wanted it taken off air.

After the state BJP unit raised a complaint with Zee Tamil broadcast channel over a satirical children’s show for certain critical remarks about policies and reforms executed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting has issued a notice to Zee Entertainment Enterprises, seeking its response to the complaint.

The notice, issued on Tuesday, is based on a petition from the same complainant, C T R Nirmal Kumar, BJP state president of IT and Social Media Cell.

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The complaint against the Tamil reality show – ‘Junior Super Stars Season 4’ – said the programme contained “obnoxious” comments against the Prime Minister and wanted it taken off air.

The popular programme, which was presented in the format of a skit on January 15, was anchored by Tamil actress Sneha and other celebrities such as RJ Mirchi Senthil and comedian Amudhavanan. It had references to a popular 2006 Tamil political satire film – Imsai Arasan 23 M Pulikesi – in which comedian Vadivelu played the role of an unpopular king controlled by the British, who lived a life of luxury in spite of major crisis and famine in his country.

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The children on the TV show also referred to a king and his policy reforms that failed the country and the people – with references to certain policies such as demonetisation and disinvestment implemented by the Modi government.


The redressal mechanism

THE I&B Ministry last year had asked all broadcasters to set up a three-tier grievance redressal mechanism, according to which a complainant should first approach the channel with the complaint, which needs to be addressed within 15 days. If unhappy, the complainant can approach the industry's self-regulatory body, which has to dispose it of within 60 days. If still dissatisfied, the complainant can approach the I&B Ministry, which can then ask the channel to respond with a showcause notice, and set up an inter-ministerial committee to look into possible violations.

In his complaint, which was sent to the channel and the I&B Ministry, Kumar said: “Scathing remarks were passed about demonetisation, his (PM) diplomatic travel to various countries, PM’s attire and disinvestment. For a child below the age of 10, it would have been impossible for him/her even to understand what these really mean. But, under the name of comedy, these topics were forced into the children.”

The letter also complained that anchors and judges of the show were encouraging these remarks. “This sends a wrong message about the channel in Tamil Nadu and what it stands for nationally,” it said. “It is evident that the channel made no effort to curtail this blatant misinformation passed casually and through young children.”

The I&B Ministry said it received a complaint against telecast of the programme on January 15. “And the channel was requested to provide comments on the complaint to this ministry within a period of seven days, failing which further action will be taken,” it said.

Ministry officials in Delhi confirmed that they had asked for a response from Zee Tamil regarding the show, but clarified that it was not a showcause notice, and it did not state that any provisions of the Cable TV Networks Act were violated.

Sources in the ministry said when they receive a specific complaint, it is forwarded to the channel, seeking a reply. Only once it receives the response, they said, the ministry will consider if the content of the show contravened any rules and if any action is required.

The Zee Group will respond to the complaint within the stipulated time frame of seven days as per procedure, The Indian Express has learned.

On Tuesday, complainant Kumar said the Zee management has assured that they will remove the problematic portions from their digital platforms. “There is no official communication from the channel but they told us that they will remove those portions and also run a scroll expressing regret when they run the same show next week,” he told The Indian Express.

Welcoming the ministry’s action, state BJP chief K Annamalai thanked L Murugan, the I&B Minister of State, for “standing for justice”.

“Let children be not used for any propaganda. That’s our wish. We hold the media in highest esteem and Tamil Nadu BJP will continue to do that,” said Annamalai.

Inputs from ENS, New Delhi

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