Sticky Ground

Written by Anushree Bhattacharyya | Updated: Jan 29 2013, 11:39am hrs
In the first one and half years of its operations, the Broadcasting Content Complaints Council has battled as many 8,628 complaints and is gearing up to take on more in the future

Remember the Jerry Springer Show on Big CBS or Get Out on TLC or the infamous ticker which said, 'How to not get caught while watching porn' on MTV. Interestingly, all these shows/ticker have been pulled off air and is no longer being shown on respective channels. Wondering why Simple, set up one and a half years ago as an answer to resolve viewers concerns, television content watchdog Broadcasting Content Complaints Council (BCCC) had only one agenda to monitor content on non-news channels.

In the last 18 months, the self-regulatory body has received as many as 8,628 complaints. Of this it had received only 1,072 specific complaints while it got 858 miscellaneous complaints (complaints not pertaining to specific channels/ shows). Moreover, it received 4,814 suggestions, apart from 565 complaints against advertisements, about 253 complaints against films, 483 complaints against news content, 153 complaints against non-Indian Broadcasting Federation (IBF) members which the body referred to the ministry of information and broadcasting and 430 complaints against quizzes and prizes.

At a press conference held in New Delhi last week,Justice (Retd.) AP Shah, chairman, BCCC, said, The body's biggest achievement has been 100% compliance of all channels with the council's directive. There has been no instance of violation in this respect. Also nearly 50% complaints have been received on content related to sex, obscenity and nudity. Next in line was crime and violence. A majority of the audience has complaints against the nature of depiction of violence in crime shows or any other fictional shows.

The regulatory body takes about a month to reach a final decision from the day a complaint is received. It then sends a prima facie notice to the channel. In cases which require immediate action, the body issues an ex parte order asking the channel to immediately stop the broadcast of a particular episode or show.

So far there have seven cases where the channel took a programme off the air. These were the Jerry Springer Show on Big CBS, Get Out on TLC, Californication and Free Radio on FX, Yamalokadalli Parayashchitha and Yariguntu Yarigalla on Zee Kannada apart from a ticker aired by MTV which said, ' How not to get caught while watching porn'. Further, 13 cases where reported where channels were asked not to repeat some episodes of a programme. Additionally, in 23 cases, channels where asked to edit or modify the content. Next, for three programmes including Sex and The City, The Jerry Springer Talk Show and 'Best kiss award' and the 'Best love-making scene award', Big CBS Spark, Big CBS Love and Zoom were asked to shift the episode/ programme to a late night slot.Moreover, in case of 20 programmes, channels were asked to modify content or shift episode/programme time to late night slots including repeat telecast. Lastly, in only one case, that is Bigg Boss Season-5 aired on Colors, the channel was asked to stop cross-promotion by a participant. The BCCC directed that one of the participants Sunny Leone would not be allowed to promote pornography through the show.

Self-regulation is the most appropriate way to handle content on television. The BCCC is a truly independent council that looks into complaints from all over the country. The broadcasters take all recommendations, directions and advisories of the BCCC very seriously and will continue to support the councils efforts, said Man Jit Singh, CEO, Multi Screen Media (MSM) and president, IBF.

The self-regulatory body has also issued several advisories including advisory on portrayal of women in television programmes, on depiction of animals/wildlife, on telecast of award functions, participation of children in reality programmes, sexualisation of children in shows, health and safety of children participating in reality show and on comedy shows. With these advisories, the body had laid down rules for broadcasters to follow for such kind of programmes.

For the BCCC, this is just a small step that will take them onto a long road, where every day will bring a new learning to the table.