South Asia Censorship News

 2011: July-Sept

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26th September   

Muted Policy...

CD Universe - Buy Music CDs, TV on DVD, DVDs, Video Games for XBox, PlayStation 2 and Much More

Indian film censors decide to mute, rather than bleep, 'inappropriate' words
Link Here

CBFC logoThe Indian censor board has decided to do away with the beeps when substituting for 'objectionable' verbal content including expletives, derogatory references to women and specific communities.

In a move to discourage filmmakers from using strong language in cinema, the censor board has decided to mute what the Board sees as inappropriate words.

Pankaja Thakur, the Chief Executive Officer of the Central Board Of Film Certification, said, We have been told beeps don't work. We've decided to mute inappropriate words instead of beeping them.

The new policy will be applicable with immediate effect.

 

20th September   

Update: Losing Facebook...

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Pakistan high court orders blocking of Facebook in a long running reaction to the Mohammed cartoons
Link Here  full story: Internet Censorship in Pakistan...internet website blocking

Facebook logoThe Lahore High Court has ordered Pakistan's Ministry of Information and Technology to block access to all websites in Pakistan especially American social networking website Facebook, spreading religious hatred on internet and to submit a compliance report by October 6.

The judge, however, made it clear that no search engine including Google would be blocked.

The court issued this order while hearing a petition seeking a permanent ban on the access to American social networking website Facebook for hosting competition featuring supposedly blasphemous caricatures of Mohammed.

Muhammad & Ahmad, a 'public interest' litigation firm, filed this petition for a permanent ban on access to Facebook for hosting a fresh blasphemous caricature drawing contest world over under a title 2nd Annual Draw Muhammad Day-May 20, 2011 . The petitioner pointed out that Islamic values are being derogated in the name of information that is hurting feeling of billions of Muslims. He said despite order of the court, ministry of information technology did not block websites spreading religious hatred.

 

14th September   

Losing Viewers...

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Producers call for TV censorship to stop their tele dramas from being crap
Link Here  full story: TV Censorship in Sri Lanka...Poor quality programmes inspires establishment of TV censors

sihina sithuwamThe Sri Lankan Sunday Times seems somewhat impressed by local TV dramas and writes:

With the uncontrollable increase of television time for of teledramas with their stories far too close to reality, amateur performance by untrained actors and actresses with unreasonably extended episodes, the quality of teledrama industry has fallen into a deplorable state.

The teledrama directors themselves who made this criticism have requested the government to scrutinize every teledrama through a censor.

The founder President present Chief Organiser of Tele Makers Guild (TMG) and experienced teledrama director Sudath Roahan explained that their main aim of this endeavour is to bring back artistic quality and standard to teledrama and attract the audience which is rapidly getting away from TV. The TMG has handed over a petition to the President and other relevant authorities to intervene and protect the art of teledrama.

The teledrama makers have requested the government to scrutinize teledramas through the Public Performance Board (PPB) like other performing arts such as cinema, theatre and even music. If even a musical show has to be examined by the censor board, it is strange why teledrama which has become a common media watched by millions is not examined, Sudath said.

Perhaps a more telling reason for the decline in TV audience:

Director Sudath Rohana said The TMG also complained that the unethical advertising practices followed by both the private and state television channels. At the beginning a teledrama episode received a 25 minute time slot. But today in a complete contrast not only the teledrama time is reduced to just 15 to 16 minutes but every single frame is filled with continuous stripes of advertisement all over the screen.

 

12th September   

TV Censorship Laws for Dictatorships...

Bangladesh looks set for a very repressive TV censorship law
Link Here

Bangladesh flagThe Ministry of Information in Bangladesh has recently approved a new law for television channels in the country, which will obstruct all foreign movie channels as the law strictly bans showing any kiss scene in any of the program contents.

Imposing a strict censorship on the existing vibrant private television media in Bangladesh, the law contains several clauses, which only is seen in countries governed under dictatorial regimes. Below we are providing details on the law along with our explanations:

  • Private television channels cannot run direct publicity in favor of any political party [publicity in favor of ruling party is allowed]
     
  • Misleading information cannot be incorporated in any talk shows [it stops the participants of the talk shows from delivering any comment criticizing the ruling party or its activities]
     
  • National ideology or characters cannot be criticized
     
  • The father of the nation [Sheikh Mujibur Rahman] cannot be criticized in any of the programs [any of his mistakes during his governance cannot be anymore mentioned in any of the programs]
     
  • No individual can be criticized in the programs [this has been initiated as a number of ministers in the ruling government became subject of harsh criticism following their severe failures]
     
  • No criticism will be allowed on national ideologies and goals
     
  • No defense and government information can be leaked in any of the programs on television channels
     
  • No program can be aired which would provoke deterioration of law and order situation [this law will stop broadcasting news and contents related to general strikes and demonstration programs of the political opponents of the ruling party].
     
  • No program can be broadcast against any friendly nation
     
  • Programs related to trafficking in women, forced prostitution, rape etc will be barred from broadcast under the new law. [This law will also stop broadcasting investigative reports on such issues].
     
  • Broadcasting kiss scene shall be banned under the new law [this will stop all foreign television channels, especially the movie channels from being connected to Bangladeshi cable television network]
     
  • No program or content on mutiny or demonstration can be broadcast on television channels.
     
  • Programs exposing the activities of criminals as well as their modus-operandi cannot be shown on any television channel
     
  • The private television channels shall be bound to broadcast speeches of the Head of the State, Head of the government [Prime Minister], public announcements, press notes as well as any program of national interest .

The law shall come into affect within next three months.

 

30th August   

Update: Virtually Repressive...

Pakistan bans VPNs
Link Here  full story: Internet Censorship in Pakistan...internet website blocking
hide my ass logo Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) have been banned in Pakistan.

According to a report in the Times of India, the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) has issued a directive to all the ISPs in the country to disable any technology that aids private browsing.

It has also been noticed that the PTA, apart from the VPN block has been blocking several websites, too. Turns out that the Rolling Stone website has been blocked in Pakistan, probably because it shared an IP address with a banned site and the ISP could not deactivate a single URL.

 

26th August   

Updated: Cast Out of Three Indian States...

Caste sensitivity results in state bans of the Indian film Aarakshan
Link Here
aarakshan Aarakshan the Bollywood movie about the caste and education system in India has featured in a banning row with politicians from three states in India, despite the movie being passed by the censors.

Prakash Jha's Bollywood film Aarakshan attracted bans from three key states in India, namely, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh (UP) and Andhra Pradesh (AP). The opening weekend of the film had a restricted release due to politicians in the banning states feeling the film was insensitive to low-caste Hindus by using objectionable terms.

Aarakshan, translated as Reservation, is based on caste-orientated reservation in the Indian education system. Supposedly derogative references made to Dalits (formerly known as untouchables) in the film instigated protest and vandalism of posters. Some Dalit groups are not happy with the casting of actor Saif Ali Khan (a Muslim royal) as a low-caste Hindu in the film.

Prior to the release of the film it was reported that Prakash Jha's residence and office were ransacked by activists of Republican Party of India (RPI). Reacting to the attack, Jha said: The censor board (Central Board of Film Certification) has cleared the film without a single cut and with a U/A certificate (Parental Guidance). I am confident my film has examined the issue of reservation and caste divides with sensitivity. I don't understand why is everybody up in arms against my film. However, it's a democratic country, so everyone has a right to protest.

However, due to the media commotion surrounding the film and the move from Praksah Jha the director seeking the lifting of the bans at the Supreme Court, it's emerged that authorities in Punjab reviewed the film and the government panel lifted the ban and similarity the same by Andhra Pradesh officials. Leaving the ban in UP outstanding.

Update: Government don't want to get involved

16th August 2011. See  article from  tribuneindia.com

Defending the censor board's decision to allow the film Aakarshan release, the Centre ruled out any scope for intervention in the matter.

I am fully with the decision of the Censor Board.... My Ministry has no role in it, Information and Broadcasting Minister Ambika Soni told reporters.

To a question why the I & B Ministry was not intervening, Soni said: In the Cinematograph Act, there was some scope for intervention earlier. But in 2000, that right was taken away by the Supreme Court. As of today, the Ministry has no right to intervene. She said the Central Board of Film Certification is an autonomous body and it had been reconstituted very recently.

Update: Court judgement bans states from rethinking decisions made by the national film censor

26th August 2011. See  article from  telegraph.co.uk

high court delhi The Indian Supreme Court has ruled that state governments cannot ban a film, which has been cleared by the censor board for public screening, on the apprehension that it could cause a law and order problem.

Clearing decks for release of Prakash Jha's film Aarakshan in Uttar Pradesh, a bench of Justices M K Sharma and A R Dave said it was the state's duty to maintain law and order and quashed an order banning the film's screening for two months.

The court said:

It is for the state to maintain law and order effectively and meaningfully. It said reservation as a social issue needs to be debated in every forum. We feel reservation is a social issue and in a vibrant democracy like ours, public discussion is necessary. Such discussion on social issues bring about awareness for effective working of the democracy.

Once an expert body has cleared a film, the state cannot go behind law and order situation to stall its screening in theatres.

 

19th August   

Private Judgement...

Delhi High Court puts a stop to move to require film certification for home VCDs and DVDs
Link Here

high court delhi The High Court of Delhi has put a stop to a lower court judgement that somehow mandated CBFC film certificates for DVDs and home viewing.

India's film censorship laws requires a film censor certificate for public exhibition.

The lower court judgement said that because a VCD or DVD might be shown in public then they all require a film certificate. The lower court judge said:

Once it leaves the shop where the film is purchased, neither the maker of the film nor its seller, has any control on whether it is viewed by one person or by a hundred, or whether it is viewed in a place to which the public is invited or in the private confines of a home. At the point where a member of the public plays it on an equipment and views such film, whether in the confines of a private space or otherwise, prior certification of that film in terms of Section 5-A of Cinematography Act would become necessary.

Now the Delhi High Court has stayed the order as requested by Super Cassettes Industries who argued that films made for private screening should not require censor board certificates.

 

13th August   

Update: Listening In...

India to monitor blogs and social networking to keep tabs on 'extremism'
Link Here  full story: Internet Censorship in India...India considers blanket ban on internet porn
India flag India's Department of Telecommunications has been asked to monitor Twitter and Facebook, because of fears that the sites are being used to plan terrorist attacks.

In April, the Indian Information Technology (IT) Act of 2008 was amended, giving officials the ability to monitor web activity. It also provides officials with access to private information, including passwords, without a court order.

However, Facebook and Twitter do not release the information of their users without a court order.

 

28th July   

Update: Fear and Honour...

Religious threat sees cinema owners opt out of showing movie about honour killing
Link Here  full story: Honour Crime...International honour killings and family crime

khap While the khap panchayats (Religious caste based councils) are getting louder in their protest against screening of new Bollywood movie Khap-a story of honour killing in Haryana, the cinema owners, in the stronghold of these bodies, seem to have preferred to play safe by not screening the movie on its release on July 29.

Though, the cinema owners maintained that they had not received any threat from the khap panchayats, sources pointed out that apprehension of violence is one of the reason behind disinterest of the cinema owners in screening the movie at this stage.

Prominent locals though have taken a serious view of some khap individual's threat to obstruct the screening of the film in Haryana. They jointly submitted a memorandum to Rohtak district administration asking for necessary steps like providing security at the cinema halls.

In a joint statement issued in Rohtak by a group of academics, social activists, intellectuals and artists, expressed concern over the culture of intolerance being spawned by some khap zealots saying: Fearing a possible threat by the khap elements, Rohtak theatre owners have reportedly decided not to screen the film due for all India release. This is highly unfortunate and a direct attack on the right to freedom of expression. If one does not agree with the film, one is free to express dissent or approach the court if there is anything illegal in the film as the movie has been cleared by the Censor Board.

 

22nd July   

Update: Given a Run for their Money...

PETA attempts to get a bull run scene banned in Bollywood movie
Link Here  full story: Peta...Animal activists challenging the media

peta bull run The campaigners of PETA (People for Ethical Treatment of Animals) have been wound up by a scene in Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara , which features a Spanish bull run.

The activists are urging people to ask the Spanish Ambassador to ban the scene.

Did the Running of the Bulls scene in #znmd upset u? Urge the Spanish Ambassador to India to help ban it! reads Peta India's Twitter page: We will now be contacting the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting and Central Board of Film Certification to take action .

The film's producer Ritesh Sidhwani retorts, We had submitted all the papers to the Animal Welfare Board India that stated that none of the animals were injured or hurt in any way and only then, the censor board cleared the movie. We are only showing the culture of Spain.

 

20th July   

Updated: Growing Up...

India's film censors moot the idea of an X rating for uncut adult fare
Link Here

CBFC website banner India's Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) has mooted the idea of granting X certificate to porn films so that the public will have the choice of watching what their want.

While the step may come as a boon to a section of the film industry, the ministry of information and broadcasting has reportedly frowned at the CBFC proposal.

With amendments to the Cinematograph Act, 1952, in the offing, the CBFC has also been gathering opinions of the film industry on the X certification.

The Telugu film industry informally said via a key producer: Please put it forward as our suggestion to the ministry that the 'X' rating should be allowed.

The Telugu film industry also advised the CBFC to do away with the A certification and simply call it as 18+ certificate. This is to do away with the stigma attached to A certificate films. 18/A films are still clipped by censors, but now such films with all their adult scenes and violence intact can be given an X rating.

The details about where X'-rated films can be screened will be sorted out by the film industry and the government, if the discussion on the matter goes forward.

 

12th July   

Updated: A Bellyful of Censorship...

Delhi Belly banned in Pakistan and raided in Nepal
Link Here

delhi belly Pakistan's film censors have decided not to clear Aamir Khan's Delhi Belly for public exhibition

A leading cineplex in Karachi, which was to screen the movie from 1 July, informed media that the Pakistan censor board has not cleared the film. Hence, for the time being, the screening has been put off. The film is unlikely to be released in Pakistan.

See  article from  dnaindia.com

Delhi Belly has also been targeted by Nepal's censors.

The ban came after Nepal's Film Censor Board complained to the authorities that the Abhinay Deo-directed film was full of obscene dialogue and the distributor of the film in Nepal had failed to heed the censors' directive that the objectionable bits be removed before screening it in Nepal's theatres.

Obeying orders from the Kathmandu district administration, police on Sunday evening raided the Gopirkishna multiplex in Kathmandu, seizing prints of the film and stopping all screenings till the recommended cuts were effected.

Update: Cut

6th July 2011. See  article from  myrepublica.com

The government has lifted the ban on the screening of Hindi movie Delhi Belly two days after the police seized the movie print from Gopikrishna Movies in Kathmandu, claiming that the movie was screened without removing obscene words as directed by the country's Film Censor Board.

According to a statement issued by the District Administration Office (DAO) in Kathmandu, the Board has received a clarification from the Triple Movies and Suppliers, the official distributor of the movie for Nepal, that it had already removed the supposedly obscene dialogues from the movie as directed by the Board and that it would be ready to face legal action if found guilty of screening it without removing the objectionable parts in the future.

Update: Belly Aching

12th July 2011. See  article from  hindustantimes.com

Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) activists have protested outside two cinema halls here exhibiting the latest Aamir Khan production Delhi Belly due to its supposed vulgar and objectionable content, police said.

The cinemas were forced to cancel the afternoon shows.

Protestors shouted slogans, tore off the movie posters and banners and attempted to barge into the theatre premises, demanding cancellation of the show.

Their ire was also directed at the censor board, which they said had cleared objectionable dialogues, explicit erotic scenes and the song DK Bose .

The protesters demanded deletion of the song, offensive dialogues and explicit scenes on grounds that they corrupted the mind of the youth, especially college students, who have been queuing up to watch the movie.

Police said that around 20 NCP activists were detained and additional security has been provided at the two cinema halls.

Update: And in the Courts

12th July 2011. See  article from  dnaindia.com

The Madhya Pradesh high court in Jabalpur has issued notices to the Bollywood actor Aamir Khan and three others on a petition demanding the stay of screenings of Delhi Belly for its supposed obscenity and use of abusive language.

Besides Aamir, other respondents are the Censor Board and the Madhya Pradesh chief secretary.

The petitioner claimed that people, especially the youth, treat Aamir as God of the acting world and he has made a number of inspirational films. However, Delhi Belly, which he has produced, is obscene and has abusive language which is against the Indian culture , petition says. The petition also says that the Censor Board has cleared the picture despite some blue-film like scenes.

Update: And Again in the Courts

26th July 2011. See  article from  indiantelevision.com

The Lucknow bench of Allahabad High Court has also issued notices to Aamir Khan Productions, the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting and the Censor Board of Film Certification challenging the public exhibition certificate issued to the film.

The petitioners alleged that the film had indecent, immoral and abusive language. They submitted that it was clear violation of Section 5 B of the Cinematograph Act.

The notices were issued on a writ petition seeking direction to quash the certificate for public exhibition.

Update: And Again And Again in the Courts

28th July 2011. See  article from  gulfnews.com

The Allahabad High Court has issued notices to Bollywood actor-filmmaker Aamir Khan and two others in connection with the public exhibition of an objectionable song in his latest production venture, Delhi Belly, a lawyer said.

While hearing a public interest litigation, seeking a ban on showing the controversial song Bhag DK Bose, a division bench also issued notice to the censor board and Ram Sampat, the writer of the song.

It was stated that the public exhibition of the [objectionable] song stands in violation of the A-certificate given to the movie for its adult content, and therefore it should be screened only in the movie and not anywhere else, counsel Vinay Saran said.

 

12th July   

Dangerous Jackets...

Bangladesh film censors ban film claiming that a jacket could trigger violence
Link Here

mujib Bangladeshi film censors have banned a movie in which the main villain is shown wearing a jacket associated with the ruling Awami League party, claiming it could trigger violence.

The film Ridoy Bhanga Dhew (Heart Breaking Wave) was banned as it mocks ruling party officials, the vice-chairman of the Film Censor Board, Surat Kumar Sarker told AFP.

The main villain in the film is shown wearing a Mujib coat , a distinctive, black sleeveless jacket named after Bangladesh's founding leader, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, who wore it when addressing political rallies. It is usually worn only by Awami League members keen to show their party allegiance.

There is no need for the character to wear this dress. It could spark violence, claimed Akanda Sanawar Morshed, a filmmaker and member of the censor board.

 

6th July   

Diplomatic Censorship...

Diplomats claim that Channel 4 is inaccurate in documentary about Sri Lanka's Killing Fields
Link Here

sri lanka killing fields The UK's TV censor Ofcom is to investigate the accuracy of Channel 4's recent documentary Sri Lanka's killing Fields following claims that it was misleading and misrepresentative.

British TV website TV Pixie disclosed that Ofcom would probe the program, presented by Jon Snow and produced by Callum Macrae: Ofcom will assess the complaints against the program under their Broadcasting Code to see if it needs further investigation and action.

Ofcom has received over 100 complaints since the film was aired on Channel 4 on June 14.

Sri Lankan diplomats and leading forensic video 'experts' had contested Channel 4's claims of accuracy. They are claiming that video footage used to support the killing fields story was faked or altered

Meanwhile, the Sri Lanka High Commission in Australia and Sri Lankans living in Australia have complained to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation following its decision to telecast the Channel 4 documentary as part of its Four Corners programme.

 

6th July   

Wrong Type of Censor...

Pakistan film censor states in court that it is not his job to censor CDs and stage shows
Link Here

Lahore High Court The Lahore High Court (LHC) has adjourned the hearing of a petition until the first week of September, seeking a ban on sale of supposedly vulgar CDs and stage dramas and their telecast on cable network.

Central Film Censor Board Vice Chairman Ashraf Gondal informed the court that it is not the board's duty to monitor or ban sale of vulgar dance CDs and performances of stage dancers. He said that such activities fall under purview of the Motion Picture Ordinance while the board is only responsible to censor obscene dances from films.

The LHC is hearing a case against singers Naseebo Lal and Nooran Lal for singing supposedly vulgar songs in 2009 and cable TV channels, whom are accused of spreading obscenity in society through their stage dramas and dances.

Petitioner Asif Mehmood Khan submitted that the departments concerned, in connivance with some other elements, were violating the law and the constitution by spoiling the integrity, sanctity and morality of society. The petitioner requested the court to impose a complete ban on all audio/video songs of the two singers.

 

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