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Channels can telecast only CBFC-certified films: HC

Written by: Staff

Mumbai, Aug 23 (UNI) The Bombay High Court today held that all channels, direct-to-home cable service, cable operators and cable service providers can air films certified 'U' and 'U/A' by the Censor Board for Film Certification (CBFC).

A division bench comprising justices R M Lodha and S A Bobde also directed that cable operators and cable service providers, against whom action was taken following Court orders on August 16, be discharged.

The court directed that foriegn channels, that were broadcasting here, have to get themselves registered here within 180 days and have to abide by the Cable Television Network (Regulation) Act, 1995.

The Court was hearing a public interest litigation filed by social activist Prof Pratibha Nathani alleging that adult content was being aired on cable channels which was detrimental for children.

Adv Mukesh Vashi, appearing on behalf of the petitioner, told the Court today that following the August 16 court order, the director general of police had initiated action against erring cable operators and service providers and the cable operators had blacked out all the channels for 26 hours in protest. The police, however, assured the operators that no action would be taken against them, following which they resumed transmission.

But, Associate Advocate General A A Kumbhakoni refuted that the state had given any such assurance. Action would be taken in accordance with the law against the defaulters, he told the court.

Senior counsels A Chagla and Janak Dwarkadas, representing the broadcasters, told the court that foreign channels like Sony Television and Star Network were telecasting from abroad and, therefore, could not be governed by the guidelines of the Act.

However, Additional Solicitor General of India B A Desai told the court that such channels, as well as DTH, held licences to telecast in India from the Information and Broadcasting Ministry.

The IB Ministry and the guidelines under the Programme and Advertising Code do not allow broadcasting of promotions, trailors, music albums and advertisements unless sanctioned by the CBFC as ''unrestricted for public viewing'', he said.

The court observed that such channels should adhere to the code prescribed by the 1995 Act. The channels cannot escape their liability and consequently obey the order of December 21, 2005 by not airing content that was not certified by the CBFC for unrestricted public viewing, the court observed.

The court also observed that the December order was not binding on television serials as of now and scheduled the next hearing for September 27.


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