New Delhi: Facing flak for barring Sony TV from telecasting Vidya Balan-starrer 'The Dirty Picture' during daytime, the Information and Broadcasting ministry today said its decision was based on the advice of Censor Board.
"The CBFC, which is an independent statutory body, had held that even the UA certificate given to the movie after several cuts meant that parental guidance was a must. The ministry was simply acting on the advice," a senior I&B official told PTI. The ministry's notice to Sony on Saturday to not telecast the movie before 11PM had attracted criticism in some quarters which felt that the government was trying to muzzle TV content. The film's director Milan Luthria and actor Tusshar Kapoor came out strongly against the government's decision.
The film was scheduled to be telecast at 12 noon and 8PM on Sunday, for which Sony TV had gone on a big publicity drive. However, officials said that an April 19 order of the Lucknow Bench of the Allahabad High Court had asked the I&B ministry to ensure that the telecast of 'The Dirty Picture' did not violate guidelines. Following the court order, the advice of the CBFC (Central Board of Film Certification) was sought in the matter, officials said.
On April 20, CBFC CEO Pankaja Thakur advised the ministry that as per the Programme code of the Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Act 1995, the film should not be shown in the afternoon or evening. In her letter Thakur said that 'The Dirty Picture' had been rated 'A' (adult only) but was later rated 'UA' (personal guidance) after 59 audio and visual cuts.
Thakur said that 'UA' certificate meant that the film contained visuals and dialogues unsuitable for children watching this film without parental guidance. "Such programmes should be shown after 11 pm to ensure that they are only seen by young adults (age 14 to 17) or children who have parental guidance available since late at night most parents are available to suitably guide them,"
Thakur told the ministry.
The CBFC CEO had also clarified that Rule 6(5) of the Programme Code stated that shows unsuitable for children must not be carried in cable services at a time when the largest number of children are viewing.
"Hence keeping in view the Programme Code 6(5), CBFC would not like any channel to show 'Dirty Picture' on the time for which it is being advertised right now i.e. afternoon and evening," Thakur had said in her letter.
Officials said that the I&B ministry had on April 20, informed the Managing Director of Sony TV of the CBFC opinion about the unsuitability of the film's content for children but the TV channel had continued with promos of the film during the family viewing hours. "Consequently on Apr 21, the ministry wrote to the channel to not telecast the movie any time before 11PM," officials said.
Ministry officials responded to critcism that they were barring the telecast of a movie for which the lead actress won a national award, saying that the award was given by an independent panel on the basis of performance while CBFC rating were based on the content of the film.
"The screening has not been banned, only as per the CBFC ratings the channel has been asked to air it when parents can provide guidance as to whether their children should watch it or not," said a senior official. "The movie is based on a bold theme and the government is not curbing its telecast but only ensuring that no norms are violated. The movie was allowed to be screened in theatres, its CDs are available and it can be telecast on TV after 11PM," the official added.