After raising an uproar last week over the Star Plus reality show Sach ka Saamna which resulted in getting the channel a show-cause notice from the I&B Ministry,the Rajya Sabha on Monday came out in full strength demanding that a regulator be set up to keep television channels under control. The near three-hour-long discussion on the increasing obscenity and vulgarity in TV programmes being shown on different channels against the cultural ethos of the country had MPs on their feet alleging that channels across the spectrum were vitiating the social atmosphere.
Shows ranging from Sach ka Saamna to MTV Roadies,Splitsvilla,Balika Vadhu among others were all put in the dock by the MPs even as they maintained that they were not against the freedom of the press.
I&B Minister Ambika Soni told the House that she agreed with their views and her ministry had already begun talks with broadcasters for creation of an independent regulator which will have on board members from the media community,civil society and Secretary I&B besides a few ministry officials as ex officio members.
I am a woman,a mother and a grandmother and I am as concerned about these issues as all members to see that the values that we grew up with do not get eroded. There is,however,a strong sensitivity in the media about any kind of government control. I have held three rounds of talks with the self-regulatory bodies NBA,IBF,ASCI and we are discussing ways of creating an independent regulator, she said.
Initiating the discussion,BJP leader Ravi Shankar Prasad said he was proud of the impressive growth in the electronic media but pointed out that while the censor should not kill creativity but the right to creativity should not be such that it pollutes time-tested rules.
CPMs Brinda Karat took strong objection to the portrayal of women in media which commodified them,depicted them as sexual objects and advertisements which demeaned women.
Eminent filmmaker Shyam Benegal,however,held that government had little role in this issue in his view as it has to do with mass culture which is continuously evolving.
I do not believe the Censor Board has functioned well over all these years. This whole debate started with some recent shows borrowed from abroad. Sach ka Saamna is demeaning to human beings and obviously has high TRPs. It is like someone stripping publicly to get paid for it,spectating in these cases is involuntary,like pornography it is demeaning to you own sense of self-esteem. When an act is in private it is different but TV is a social medium watched by public at large and 90 per cent of it is about family viewing. However,government must have no serious sole in this,we need to create a self-regulatory body of channels with equal number of people from the civil society,TV industry and the casting vote should rest with civil society, he said.
RJDs Rajniti Prasad warned that Sach Ka Saamna should be stopped otherwise it wont be good for the future. He also objected to Balika Vadhu. Dadi ladki ko kamre me lock ker deti hai ghanto tak (the grandmother locks the girl inside a room for hours). Such inhuman acts should not be shown, he said.