The Delhi high court has upheld the union information and broadcasting ministry's decision to ban telecast of entertainment channel Comedy Central for 10 days starting Saturday for airing programmes that utter “dialogues, denigrating women”.
The ministry had ordered the entertainment channel on May 17 to go off air from May 25 to June 4 for telecasting “obscene dialogues and vulgar words derogatory to women” on May 26, 2012 in a programme titled 'Stand Up Club' and on another programme titled 'Popcorn' on July 4, 2012.
“The portrayal in the programme did not appear suitable for unrestricted public exhibition and children,” the order said, referring to the programme aired on May 26, 2012. It showed a man performing an act of stand-up comedy with suggestive gestures and gyration.
“During his performance, the man was shown uttering dialogues denigrating women, indecently and crudely referred to sex organs of men and women and the sing-song rendition by the man sought to pornographically describe the male lust, depicting women as a commodity of sex,” it added.
The ministry had issued a show cause notice to the channel for telecast of the said programmes which appeared to violate many provisions of the Cable Television Networks Rules, 1994.
The provisions include: no programme should be carried in the cable service which offends against good taste or decency; no programme should be carried which contains anything obscene, defamatory, deliberate, false and suggestive innuendos and half truths.
It also says that no programme should be carried which denigrates women through the depiction in any manner of the figure of woman, her form or body or any part thereof in such a way as to have the effect of being indecent or derogatory to women or is likely to injure the public morality.
In another show, titled Popcorn, on July 4, 2012, the channel showed some members of the crew playing pranks in public. They performed acts taking passers-by with surprised who were unaware of the hidden camera that was capturing the whole scene.
During the programme, one of the crew members was shown standing opposite a wall, in a shop holding a pair of fake legs against his thighs in his hands and making suggestive movements similar to having sex.
A lady passerby was shown looking at the prankster in complete bewilderment.
On Friday, the Delhi high court dismissed a Viacom 18 Media Pvt Ltd plea against the government decision. Justice VK Jain said the penalty prohibiting the telecast of the channel for 10 days cannot be termed as “excessive, harsh or unreasonable”.
“Considering that the penalty could be prohibition of telecast up to 30 days for first violation and up to 90 days in case of second violation, the penalty imposed upon the channel cannot be said to be excessive or unreasonable. Even if one were to exclude the second violation i.e. telecast of the programme Popcorn from consideration, the penalty, prohibiting the telecast for 10 days for the first violation alone cannot be said to be excessive, harsh or unreasonable,” the court said, referring to a 2011 policy on the guidelines for up-linking of television channels from India.