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Content code: TV shows will have U,A,U/A labels

The broadcast industry is set to get a content code that will be self-regulated but will mandate that all programming....

Written by Archna Shukla | New Delhi | September 12, 2009 4:57:27 am

The broadcast industry is set to get a content code that will be self-regulated but will mandate that all programming — including ads — be categorized as “Universal (U)”,“Adult/Universal (U/A)” and “Adult (A)” on the lines of classification followed for films and their schedules fixed accordingly.

Sources said the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting met the Indian Broadcasting Foundation (IBF) and is giving final touches to the code. The IBF is the largest association of leading broadcasters.

As per the code,programmes under “U” (all ages) category may be aired round the clock. Those tagged “U/A” (for viewers above 12 years) will have to be aired only between 8 pm and 4 am while programmes tagged A (for viewers above 18) will be aired only between 11 pm and 4 am.

According to these guidelines,violence,coarse and abusive language,nudity,kissing or any sexual innuendo are a strict no-no for U programmes. Those tagged “U/A” are not expected to use “highly coarse language with explicit sexual connotations.”

An IBF member who attended the meeting said there was a consensus on most issues proposed by the Ministry except for a few “disagreements” likely to be resolved in the next meeting scheduled later this month.

The “disagreements” revolve around definition of “adult” programming,depiction of women in ads and the use of children in programmes.

The proposed code disallows “explicit images of sexual activity,sexual perversions,or violence,including rape,molestation,etc.”

“When these programmes will already be tagged as meant for adults and be aired after 11 pm,then such stringent guidelines are not required,” said a senior executive of a broadcast company. “We,as it is,follow all norms of decency in our programming and not air things that will embarrass family members watching TV together,” said Nitin Vaidya,chief operating officer,Zee Entertainment Enterprises Ltd.

The guidelines also provide for a consumer complaint and redressal system. To monitor these guidelines,the ministry has proposed a content code committee with representatives from IBF,the ministry and consumer bodies.

The Ministry has also started a separate consultation process with news channels on the issue — the I&B Secretary will meet the News Broadcasters Association on September 15 to discuss “content regulation.”

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