With broadcasters and the government close to working out a new content code for television, foreign movies with partial nudity and mature content may soon be allowed at all time bands on digital addressable media platforms like direct-to-home (DTH) services, conditional access system and IPTV platforms, which have the provision of a parental lock.
Currently, all foreign language films, even after adult certification from their country of origin, have to get approval from the Indian censor boards. To get the nod, they invariably have to undertake re-editing of the “objectionable” portions in the films, in accordance with the existing programme code under the cable TV law.
The existing analogue cable services may also be allowed to show adult content on television (foreign cinema to start with) but from 11 pm to 4 am only, as a broad consensus is being arrived at on the draft content code between the government and broadcasters, pending resolution for over two years.
This comes after the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (I&B) re-started discussion on the new content code with broadcasters. Government sources say at the most three to four more meetings will be required to finalise the code, that will replace the existing one, adapted from the guidelines drafted for Doordarshan decades earlier.
Sources say in the latest meeting a few days earlier between the Indian Broadcasting Foundation (IBF), the apex body of all broadcasters, and the I&B ministry, several key breakthroughs were achieved.
“Among several things, the I&B ministry has favourably responded to our draft content code on inclusion of adult content, specially in foreign cinema, on digital platforms, with facility of parental lock. This was there in the original draft code in 1994 but struck out later,” Jawahar Goel, president, IBF, told Business Standard. Though, details on how much nudity in foreign cinema are to be allowed on Indian telly screens has to be worked out with the government, he said. IBF's draft content code has also included content aired on local cable channels that are shown within cities or localities in cities without requiring uplinking or donwlinking (without involving satellites).
There are over 470 channels officially allowed to downlink in the country. Around 45 per cent are news and current affairs channels, and around 25 per cent are movie channels, both foreign and domestic. But there are over 5,000 local cable channels across the country that flout all applicable cable laws currently, as they are not monitored by the authorities. IBF has assured the I&B ministry of bringing these local channels in the purview of the new content code.
Goel also said that one content code for all existing and new media platforms like IPTV, HITS, mobile TV and web hosting, among others, is also being agreed on with the government. IBF has proposed a task force of members from government and broadcasters to see that one comprehensive content code is to be made to encompass all current and future media platforms.
For news channels, the self-regulation code developed by the News Broadcasters Association (NBA) will soon be notified to cover all news channels, even though not all news broadcasters in the country are affiliated with NBA, said Goel.