'Offends good taste and decency': I&B Ministry warns TV channels over gruesome, 'sensational' coverage of crimes

In some instances, it said the visuals were circled making it 'more ghastly' while such videos and images were not blurred as a precaution
Last Updated : 09 January 2023, 14:49 IST

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Describing the coverage of cricketer Rishabh Pant's road accident and an old man setting ablaze his son in Bengaluru among others as "distasteful", "sensational" and "offending good taste and decency", the Government on Monday cautioned TV channels against broadcasting disturbing footages and distressing images and asked them to stick to the Programme Code.

Citing 12 such coverage about incidents, which also included broadcasting unedited visuals of a woman lawyer being beaten up by a neighbour in Karnataka's Bagalkot in May last year, the advisory was also critical of the broadcasters who were lifting visuals directly from social media and broadcasting it with no effort to modulate or attune or edit such clips to make it compliant and consistent with the spirit of the Programme Code.

The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting issued an "advisory" to private TV channels, saying that it has observed in the last few months that several channels have reported incidents of accidents, deaths and violence, including those against women, children and elderly, which "grossly compromised on good taste and decency" and were "quite unpalatable to the eyes and ears" of a common viewer.

The advisory said channels have shown bodies of individuals and images or videos of injured people with blood splattered around, people being beaten mercilessly in close shots and continuous cries and shrieks of a child being beaten by a teacher shown repeatedly over several minutes.

In some instances, it said the visuals were circled making it "more ghastly" while such videos and images were not blurred as a precaution. "The manner of reporting such incidents is distasteful, heart wrenching, distressful, undignifying, sensational, thereby offending good taste and decency," it said.

Reminding that TV is a platform usually watched by families, which includes all age-group and with various socio-economic backgrounds, the advisory said it places certain sense of responsibility and discipline among the broadcasters, which have been detailed in the Programme Code and the Advertising Code laid down under The Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Act, 1995.

The advisory also mentioned about the possible invasion of privacy in such kind of reporting and warned that it could be "potentially maligning and defamatory". It added, such reporting can also have an adverse psychological impact on the children.

Insisting that such telecast is a matter of "grave concern", the advisory wanted the channels to adhere to the Programme Code in its entirety while reporting incidents of crime, accidents and violence, keeping in mind the larger public interest involved and nature of audience, which includes elderly, women and children.

According to the Programme Code, channels should not air any programme that "offends against good taste or decency, contains anything obscene, defamatory, deliberate, false and suggestive innuendos and half truths, criticises, maligns or slanders any individual in person or certain groups, segments of social, public and moral of the country and is not suitable for unrestricted public exhibition".

Other footages that were mentioned included a man dragging a body and showing the victim's face with blood splattered around in August last year, a teacher thrashing a five-year-old boy without muting the cries of the child begging for mercy in Bihar in July, the bullet-ridden body of Punjabi singer Sidhu Moose Wala in June and man brutally beating two minor boys without blurring images or muting cries in Assam in May.

The incidents that were broadcast were that of a man hacking his sister to death in Tamil Nadu in May, a man being hung upside down from a tree and thrashed in Chhattisgarh in May, showing five accident victims without blurring in April, visuals of a man beating up his 84-year-old mother in Kerala in April without blurring faces and a video of a minor boy being beaten up in Assam in March without edits.

Published 09 January 2023, 09:11 IST

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