After raising the age-old debate about inappropriate content on television and receiving stern warnings from the Information and Broadcasting (I&B) ministry last year, reality show Bigg Boss had given in to the demands of the moral police and toned down its antics.
However, the current season, which is being aired on Colors channel at 10.30pm, is back to ‘’offending Indian sensibilities’’. With Bollywood villain Shakti Kapoor surrounded by 13 women including actress Pooja Bedi, Afghan model Vida Samadzai and transgender activist Laxmi Narayan Tripathi, the talk invariably veers towards sex and toilet humour.
And once again, the debate over where to draw the line when it comes to reality shows is getting louder. “Television content is getting ruder and more offensive,” lamented software professional Raman Malhotra, father of two teenage children hooked on to not just Bigg Boss but also to Emotional Atyachaar that lays bare the lives of infidel couples.
Though voyeuristic shows, including Superstud, Love Net, Love Kiya To Darna Kya, are almost always a hit with audiences, a section of viewers feel that sensationalism, vulgarity and obscenity should be curbed as television has a wider reach and is accessible to people of all ages.
Interestingly, content is not monitored before telecast since there is no central censorship body for television like the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) that censors movies before their theatrical release.
Industry insiders explained that channels operate by a set of guidelines laid down by the I&B Ministry. Production houses and channels also follow self-regulation that includes keeping out nudity, extreme violence, offensive language, and scenes depicting smoking, drinking or gambling.
However, the Indian Broadcasting Federation (IBF), an umbrella organisation of TV channels and their stakeholders, has formed self-regulatory guidelines and a complaints redressal mechanism through the Broadcasting Content Complaints Council.
“Viewers watch our content and trust us. Therefore, it will be wrong to say that the broadcasters cannot control the content being shown on television,” says Uday Shankar, president of IBF.