In a question to the information and broadcasting minister, Samajwadi Party (SP) member Vishambhar Prasad Nishad said: “There is one show which has cameras filming women bathing in open, in another show, ‘Man v/s Wild’, there is a man eating insects. Have you taken any action against them?”
“There are shows which are against morals.. they show multiple marriages, indecency, violence … Is there any evaluation of its bad effects on common people and children?” he asked.
Minister of State for Information and Broadcasting Rajyavardhan Rathore said the “definition of morals, what is worth watching, what is not worth watching, the definition is different for every area, society and family. Government only gives a broad outline”.
“If someone violated the content code, we take action. There is also a number which is flashed at the bottom of the screen for those who have any complaint on the content,” he said.
However, several other members also had problems with the reality shows.
Congress’ Vijaylaxmi Sadho hit out at reality show “Bigg Boss”, saying: “Every day, bad things are shown in the show ‘Bigg Boss’. What is the government doing about it.”
Republican Party of India leader Ramdas Athawale went on to say that there should be good social and political discussions on shows like “Bigg Boss”.
“Once they had called me to ‘Bigg Boss’ as well, but my name was later withdrawn… There is need to have some control on the reality shows. There must be some social and political discussions (in the shows).”
Senior Congress leader Karan Singh was also of similar opinion. “I do not watch these shows, but at times when we see it by mistake… there is lot of indecency. Young girls are made to dance, which is against our culture.”
Responding to the comments, Rathore said the government does not want to impinge on freedom of expression.
“Because there are a number of channels, there is undoubtedly a race to attract as many eyeballs as possible. Therefore, most of these channels, no doubt, are walking a very thin line and working in that grey area.
“However, there is freedom of expression. Therefore, the government does not want to impinge on the freedom of expression. Keeping in mind the morality, keeping in mind the decency, keeping in mind the various levels of acceptance on television, certain guidelines have been issued.
“What the ministry can say is that yes, we will issue advisories and we will also take into account any complaint that comes,” Rathore said.
The minister also said that during the last one year 40,000 complaints have been received, of which action has been taken in 1,500 cases.
He said broadcasters have committed themselves to self-regulation and the government does not want to infringe upon freedom of expression but can act based on complaints received.