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South Asia Censorship News

2011: Oct-Dec

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22nd December   

Update: Red Blooded Censorship...

Indian film censors suggest that there's too much of the red stuff and perhaps it would be better if it were orange
Link Here
Full story: Internet Censorship in India...India considers blanket ban on internet porn

Indian film censors are saying enough is enough and want an end to excessive blood being shed in Telugu films. There is a feeling among censors that perhaps it could be shown as orange.

Film directors and producers are amused, enraged and are at their wits end as to how to get out of this bloody mess but the censor scissors are proving to be much sharper than the long swords and spears that heroes wield on screen.

The latest film to hurt the sensibilities of the censors is Rajanna . Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) chairperson Leela Samson has raised concerns over too much of violence in South Indian films, and taking a cue from her observations, board regional officer A Dhanalakshmi is clamping down on gory scenes.

The general instructions for Rajanna have been:

Delete the visuals of blood, slurring the whole screen, spilling, spurting, dropping, and dripping wherever it occurs in the movie. Delete the visuals of sword, spear or any weapon coming out from the other side of the body wherever it occurs.

According to sources, the war against blood by the censors began a few months ago with producers and directors being gently asked not to show so much of bloodshed on the screen. If it is inevitable, it is suggested that at least the red should be given a gentle orange hue. It is learnt that one film producer obliged and whenever he had to show blood, it was in orange colour.


22nd December   

Update: Anti-Social Judge...

The Indian government found that it was not easy to censor social media so now the courts are giving a try instead
Link Here
Full story: Internet Censorship in India...India considers blanket ban on internet porn

Even as the controversy over Indian IT minister Kapil Sibal urging social networking sites to censor offensive content rages on, a trial court has directed several sites, including Facebook, Google, Orkut and Youtube, to remove anti-religious or anti-social content promoting hatred or communal disharmony .

Administrative civil judge Mukesh Kumar has directed the social networking sites to remove objectionable content in the form of photos, videos or text which might hurt religious sentiments. The court's order came on a civil suit filed by Mufti Aijaz Arshad Qasmi who had submitted a CD and printouts of the supposedly offensive contents.

The judge said:

The defendants (websites) are hereby restrained from publishing defamatory articles shown by the plaintiff and contained in the CD filed by the plaintiff immediately on service of this order and notice. Defendants are further directed to remove the same from the social networking sites.

The court has also issued summons to the sites and fixed the matter for hearing on December 24, 2011.


10th December   

Publicity Free for All...

Indian film censors go to court over claims of bribery
Link Here

India's Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) regional officer, K Nagaraj has decided to file a defamation case against Madan Patel, the producer of Sathyananda , for levelling bribery allegations against him.

According to the Censor Board, Patel had requested it to clear two songs to be released as promos. Patel had alleged that the Regional Officer sought a bribe from the director to clear the songs. Terming the allegation cheap publicity stunt , the CBFC regional board members claimed that it was a false accusation levelled against the officer.

A defamation case was filed in the High Court against the director of the film and the court has stayed the release of the film.


6th December   

Updated: Knocking Who's There...

Indian christians complain about film poster with Christ like figure being stabbed
Link Here

Wound up by a newspaper advert, the Catholic Secular Forum (CSF) has said it plans to stall the release of a horror film this month unless it is satisfied it shows the Church and the religion without distortions.

The group has taken objection to an advertisement of Who's There? that shows Jesus Christ on the cross and a man sticking a knife into him.

Such an advertisement is mischievous. Nobody shows Allah or Krishna being stabbed like this, said CSF general secretary Joseph Dias. The advertisement was published with a caption saying This time evil will win, which mocks the Christian faith, the CSF claimed, adding no religious figure must be used to sell a film or draw audiences for commercial profit.

The CSF has filed a complaint with the local police and the Central Board of Film Certification regarding the advertisement and is planning to meet the Censor Board to discuss the issue.

The group is demanding a special screening of the film before its release to ensure it does not misrepresent Christianity in any way and will take legal recourse if the advertisement is not withdrawn and apology is not issued for the same.

The Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) took note of the complaint and found out that the advertisements were unauthorised, it directed the producer of the movie to tender an apology and withdraw the offensive advertisements unconditionally.

The CBFC has also brought the matter to the notice of the Home Minister of Maharashtra, for taking appropriate action against the producer for unlawful exhibition of the poster.

The horror film is scheduled for release on November 18 and has been rated A for adults only.

Update: Cut

20th November 2011. See  article from

The Catholic Secular Forum asked for a special screening of the film and asked the censor board to order cuts in the film. cuts in the film which it considered offensive. The censor board has now agreed to the cuts in the film.

Update: Arrested on Blasphemy Charges

6th December 2011. See  article from

The Mumbai Police last week arrested the director, producer and publicist of Hindi movie Who's There for posters that showed the picture of Jesus Christ on the cross being stabbed by a man.

The three were arrested on charges ranging from hurting religious sentiments, malicious common intention to insulting religious beliefs and for violations of the Cinematograph Act for not printing the UA certificate on the promotional materials.

Christians last month had raised objections to the movie's posters as well as its anti-Christian contents, and had registered a complaint with the Censor Board.

Conviction of the accused should not be difficult as the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC), Film Makers Combine and the Indian Motion Pictures Association (IMPPA) had in their statement to the police said that the offensive advertisements of stabbing Jesus Christ on the Cross were unauthorised, said Joseph Dias, the head of Mumbai-based Christian group Catholic Secular Forum.

The film, which is scheduled for release on November 18, has been categorized as a horror film.


3rd December   

Updated: The Dirty Picture...

Court attempt to ban biopic of the deceased actress Silk Smitha
Link Here

An Andhra Pradesh High Court judge has directed the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) to state its stand regarding stalling the release of Ekta Kapoor's The Dirty Picture.

The film is about Silk Smitha, an actress who became popular for playing sleazy roles, and who allegedly committed suicide a few years ago.

The film makers have been served notices by the court for a case to be heard this Wednesday.

The petitioner, Vadlapatla Naga Vara Prasad, said he is the brother of the deceased actress and charged the filmmakers with filling the film with unrealistic and obscene scenes rather than trying to portray the true picture. He said that none of the filmmakers had talked to him. Prasad contented that her private life was different to that portayed.

Although the petitioner claimed that he had served a notice on the censor board asking it to not certify the film at all, counsel for the censor board, told the court that they had not received any such notice.

Update: Uncut A

22nd November 2011. See  article from

The Dirty Picture has now received an adults-only uncut A certificate from the Censor Board.

Update: At the BBFC

3rd December 2011. See  article from

The UK film censors at the BBFC passed The Dirty Picture 15 uncut for moderate sex and sex references

Update: Day in Court

3rd December 2011. See  article from

Justice Vilas Afzalpurkar of the High Court reserved his decision on a petition that wanted the release of the film, Dirty Picture, to be stayed

The judge heard the petition from Vadlapatla Naga Vara Prasada Rao, brother of Silk Smitha, the Telugu actress who committed suicide a few years ago. Rao contended that the film was made based on the life of his sister without obtaining the consent of her family. He also charged the filmmakers with making the film with unrealistic and obscene shots.

Later the Andhra court ruled against Rao permitting the film to be released in the original version of the film without any edits.

Update: Banned in Pakistan

3rd December 2011. See article from

The censor board of Pakistan has banned The Dirty Picture from being screened in their country . The reason behind this is not clear yet .

Background: Sexy Theatres

4th December 2011. See  article from

It's shortly after 9:00 am in Mumbai's red light district and about 100 men are jostling at the box office window of the New Roshan Talkies cinema to buy tickets for 15 rupees each for a so-called morning show .

Indian cinema's sub-culture of titillating morning shows , which are often seen as soft pornography but are mostly no more explicit than an average Hollywood film, have attracted a lot of mainstream interest in recent weeks.

These theatres are called sexy theatres where we show these morning shows for a certain class of audience, said Raju Singh, manager of the Silver Cinema on nearby Grant Road. In the days before the Internet and cheap blackmarket X-rated DVDs, erotic films were hugely popular in the area, he said. So-called English movies - an illicit montage of censor's cuts - were also shown during intervals at the travelling cinemas that tour the Indian countryside, bringing films to the rural population.

Now the government and censors are very strict, Singh told AFP. They want to see every film that we screen and they do come for surprise checks. So, we don't show them any more. As a result, audiences for morning shows are dwindling, adding to the decline of single-screen cinemas in the face of competition from new, glitzy multiplexes run by big film studios, bootleg DVDs and cable television.

The interest in the decline of sexy theatres comes ahead of Friday's release of a new Bollywood film, The Dirty Picture , inspired by the actress Silk Smitha, who was a favourite among the erotic movie-going crowd in the 1980s. Her sexually suggestive outfits, dancing and brazen attitude shocked straight-laced audiences used to Hindi-language Bollywood's traditional portrayal of chaste, romantic love.

Update: Indecent Poster

30th December 2011. See  article from

Actress Vidya Balan has got a reprieve with the Andhra Pradesh High Court granting interim stay on a city court's order directing the police to investigate charges of obscenity and vulgarity relating to the film posters for The dirty Picture .

The petition, filed by the actress and the film's producer Ekta Kapoor, seeks to quash the criminal case filed by the police. The proceedings turned lively with the judge's remarks on the case while hearing the arguments of the counsels of the petitioner and respondents. There is no photo (poster) before me to judge whether it is indecent or not. To see a film which has been given an 'A' certificate, there is an age limit of 18 years, but there is no age limit to see a poster, the judge observed.

Petitioner's counsel contended that the registration of a First Information Report (FIR) against Vidya Balan was an abuse of process of law. The allegations made in respect of the film would not attract the sections of law referred to and would result in unnecessary harassment of the petitioner, he noted.

The public prosecutor, however, contended that the actress was liable for punishment under Section 292 and 294 of the IPC with Section 3, 4 and 6 of the Indecent Representation of Women (Prohibition) Act, 1986.


1st December   

Updated: Secret Pakistan...

BBC World News taken off Pakistani cable systems after showing documentary deemed critical of the state
Link Here

BBC world news Pakistan's cable TV association has taken BBC World News off air after screening of a documentary that it deemed anti-Pakistan.

The BBC's World News has been taken off the air in Pakistan after broadcasting a documentary that was deemed to be critical of the country. Secret Pakistan explored accusations by CIA officials and western diplomats that Pakistan was failing to meet its commitments in the war on terror .

Khalid Arain, president of the country's cable TV association, said operators had blocked the BBC service as a result.

The BBC condemned the decision. A spokesman said:

We are deeply concerned that BBC World News has been taken off air by the Cable Association of Pakistan.

We condemn any action that threatens our editorial independence and prevents audiences from accessing our impartial international news service. We would urge that BBC World News and other international news services are reinstated as soon as possible.

Update: Summoned

1st December 2011. See  article from

Pakistan has said that it was looking at summoning the BBC to demand an explanation over a documentary about the Taliban that has left the BBC World News channel blocked nationwide. Cable operators pulled the channel late Tuesday amid anger over NATO air strikes that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers.

Khalid Arain, chairman of the Cable Operators Association of Pakistan, confirmed that BBC World News was off-air nationwide and that other Western news channels had been ordered not to indulge in anti-Pakistan propaganda . [That's ok ,there's easily enough anti-Pakistan truth to fill the schedules].

Pakistan's media regulator, PEMRA, said via a spokesman: The authorities can summon BBC representatives and seek an explanation from them. Pakistan was not legally bound to show any foreign channels and was also monitoring Britain's Sky News for any objectionable content.

Update: BBC Called in from the Cold

3rd February 2012.  See  article from

The Pakistani Prime Minister, Yousuf Raza Gilani, has said he wants to see BBC World News back on cable television in his country after the recent ban.

He told the BBC at the World Economic Forum in Davos that he was absolutely in favour of giving more freedom to the media. We definitely... want the BBC to be operating in Pakistan.


27th November   

Anti-National Sentiments...

Inklab director unhappy with Indian censors cuts excising his highlighting of corruption in contemporary politics
Link Here

A short film, based on Bhagat Singh, is likely to be dropped from screening at the International Film Festival of India (IFFI) by its director as it ran into trouble with the Censor Board for its alleged anti national contents.

The Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC), has suggested nine cuts in Inklab , a short film by Chandigarh-based filmmaker Gaurav Chhabra, saying its contents are anti-national.

Chhabra has defended his portrayal and has refused to budge. The short film, inspired by the landmark Assembly bombing by Bhagat Singh in 1929, was part of the Short Film Centre.

The filmmaker said that he might drop the film due to censor board issues . He said that the board has refused him certificate saying the film violates section 5B of the Cinematographic Act 1952 which bars a movie with visuals or words promoting communal, obscurantist, anti-scientific and anti-national sentiments.

Dubbing the CBFC suggestions as uncalled for, the director said, the cuts prescribed by the CBFC chop off selectively the talks about corruption in contemporary politics . These talks represent average discussions on contemporary news among today's youth.


24th November   

Updated: Short on Freedom...

Pakistan Telecommunication Authority requires that mobile phone companies censor SMS messages
Link Here

The Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) has directed all telecom operators to censor obscene, indecent, false and fabricated content transmitted through short message service (SMS).

In a recently issued memo, the telecom watchdog has asked all cellular operators to set up an effective SMS filtering mechanism by November 21.

It has also issued a couple of catalogues containing more than 1,600 words and phrases, in both English and Urdu languages, which will be blocked during transmission.

The Telecom regulator has also asked all mobile phone companies to submit a monthly report indicating the total number of blocked messages by each operator.

Update: 'Jesus Christ' revealed as an obscene term to be banned in SMS messages

20th November 2011. See  article from

A Pakistani Christian leader has attacked The Pakistan Telecommunications Authority (PTA) who is reported to have told mobile phone companies to begin blocking text messages containing supposedly obscene words including Jesus Christ .

Wilson Chowdhry, Chairman, British Pakistani Christian Association, has told the ASSIST News Service that one from the list of supposedly offending words is Jesus Christ. In a message sent to ANS, he said that among the words and expressions that have to be blocked are Jesus Christ, bewaquf (meaning foolish'), and bakwaas (meaning 'nonsense'). Chowdhry added:

The inclusion of the name of Jesus Christ within this list of offensive words is another example of the intense hatred that resonates within Pakistan towards Christians.

The selection of other words raises further questions. I am baffled at terms such as 'Athletes foot' and 'flatulence' receiving a ban when they are commonly used medical terms.

Update: SMS censorship postponed until the heat is off

22nd November 2011. See  article from

Pakistani officials are now denying they ordered the country's mobile phone operators to block certain text messages sent by customers.

According to a letter signed by the chief of the Pakistan Telecommunications Authority dated November 14, the order to block text messages containing prohibited words was ordered to go into effect on Monday. The letter orders mobile phone service providers to block text messages containing any of more than 1,600 words and phrases -- more than 1,000 of them in English, the rest in Urdu. T

Since the letter and list became public last week, social media services like Twitter have exploded with derisive ridicule from Pakistanis. Few would disagree most of the words on the list are vulgar, but some of the words included are viewed as more innocuous and occasionally bizarre. Sex, condom, and nude are all on the list. So are the words Jesus Christ, deposit, drunk, and, perhaps the most frequently ridiculed, monkey crotch.

Mohammad Younis, spokesman for the Pakistan Telecommunications Authority (PTA) said via translator that the list should never have been made public, explaining it was meant to be kept between PTA and mobile phone companies as a means to find out whether it was possible to filter obscene messages. He said a final, shorter list of banned words will be released later, after consultation with phone companies.

Shahzad Ahmad, Pakistan country director for the digital free speech advocacy, Bytes for All, said:

It has actually embarrassed and shamed us a lot. This is outrageous. I don't know how and why PTA had so much time [or] how much effort they have put in to compile this stupid list without realizing what kind of impact it will have on the whole communication infrastructure, which is already pretty pathetic.

Pakistani telecommunications companies have announced they would hold off on implementing any text message blocking guidelines until they could seek further clarification from the Pakistani Telecommunication Authority.

Update: SMS filtering plan makes a mockery of Pakistan

24th November 2011.See  article from

The Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) is being taken to court over its plan to block list of obscene and indecent words from SMS text messgaes.

A petition in the Lahore High Court (LHC) has challenged the PTA for restricting the freedom of speech as enshrined in the Constitution of Pakistan, while making a mockery of the country in the international media.

The list contains about 1,100 English words and about 500 Urdu words. A massive uproar erupted against the list on the Internet and social networks. International media groups including CNN, BBC, ABC news, criticised Pakistan for issuing the list which contains several words of everyday use. Upon getting an unexpected reaction from around the world, the PTA announced that the list needed to be revised and was shelving the case temporarily.

Some words are being presented here to give an idea of their nature. The words are spelled according to the list:


And some have called for even more extreme censure of the PTA. In an  article from , Dr Allama GR Chishti, the chairman of Ifhamul Quran International appealed to the president and prime minister to order an inquiry into who had made the decision to ban mentions of Jesus Christ, and to prosecute them under the blasphemy law.


24th November

 Offsite: TV Censorship...

Link Here
Can Indian media self-regulate?

See article from


21st November   

Declaring Drinking and Dancing to be Obscene On Pakistan TV...

So what do you do when you've censored everything on TV and society is still shite?
Link Here

Broadcasting supposedly indecent and obscene material on the cable television networks is not going down well with nutters.

I was 'shocked' to watch a man and woman singing and dancing with Allah's name in the background. I really can't stand to watch Allah's name being disgraced, said, Fazal Mahmood Rokhan:  No one can deny the fact that cable television plays a crucial role in keeping the people informed. However, showing obscene material such as drinking and mixed dancing is not justified in any way.

Rokhan was of the view that the Pakhtun culture promotes high moral values and the cable operators should broadcast positive aspects of their culture instead of showing indecent material.

The area magistrate Peerzada Noor Muhammad Shah, when contacted, said he had issued a warning to the cable operators to stop broadcasting indecent programmes. We have also planned a meeting for all operators, he said.

The cable operators, on the other hand, claimed that they are paying thousands of rupees per month to run their network and they had the authority to show such material.


20th November   

Updated: Appointing a Pro-Violence Censor...

Mumbai film censor's office physically attacked in support of appointing a censor to support Marathi interest
Link Here

Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) members vandalised the Censor Board office in South Mumbai over their demand that a Marathi person be appointed in the Board.

According to police, the Censor Board office on Walkeshwar Road was attacked. They have registered a case of rioting and criminal conspiracy at the Malabar Hill police station. They [MNS] arrived on the Censor Board premises and damaged a couple of computers. We have booked them for rioting and criminal conspiracy. Further interrogation is in progress, said Anil Kumbhare, Deputy Commissioner of Police (Zone II).

Leaders of Maharashtra Navnirman Chitrapat Karmachari Sena (MNCKS), the cine wing of the party, confirmed that their members had attacked the office as their demand was not met. MNCKS president Amey Khopkar said the party had submitted a letter requesting the appointment of a Marathi person four months ago and no action had been taken.

In June, MNCKS had demanded that a Marathi person should be appointed among the new recruits by the Censor Board in Mumbai to give due credence to Marathi cinema. They complained that among the 15 newly appointed members --- who will review Marathi films being made in Maharashtra and Goa --- there is not one Marathi person.

Update: Censors Respond

20th November 2011. See  article from

The Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) has rejected allegations of Raj Thackeray-led Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) that Marathi films were certified by persons who did not know the language, a day after its Mumbai office was vandalised by party supporters.

The CBFC CEO clarified that the board's Advisory Panel of 123 members has 47 members whose mother tongue is Marathi. Almost all the films are certified at the local level by the Advisory Panel, which consist of members drawn from various fields, he said.

Even in its board, the CBFC has three members, Deepesh Mehta, Arundhati Nag, as well as the chairperson Leela Samson, who are familiar with Marathi, he said.

The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting has condemned the act of hooliganism and vandalism and said that such methods of protest have no place in a democratic and civilised society. The ministry has also taken up this matter with utmost gravity with the government of Maharashtra and has been assured of strong and deterrent preventive and punitive action.


16th November   

Free India...

India film censors cut Tibetan flag from film to keep China Happy
Link Here

Tibetans calling for a free country for more than half a century are dismayed and disappointed over the loss of that one moment in the Bollywood film Rockstar in which their cause has been obliterated by the censor board.

The film has been asked by the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) to delete the Free Tibet flag in the song Saadda Haq in the film, the obvious reason being not to hurt Indo-China relations.

A spokesperson for the filmmaker told Gulf News that they have agreed to blur the image of the flag.

Tenzin Tsundue, a Tibetan writer and activist, said: We did go and meet Pankaja Thakur, CEO of CBFC, to ask her why the banner has been blurred. She, however, questioned the relevance of the scene showing the Free Tibet slogan on the flag.


12th November   

Update: Don't Copy This at Home Children...

India to end its smoking problem via movie censorship
Link Here
Full story: Adult Rating for Smoking...Anti-smoking lobby for 18 for smoking in films

Henceforth, every time an Indian actor is seen taking a puff on screen, a prominent scroll warning that smoking is injurious to health will run at the bottom. What's more, the actor will personally read out the ill-effects of smoking, say the new health ministry rules to be effective from Monday.

According to the rules, all filmmakers depicting usage of tobacco will have to show a message or spot of minimum 30 seconds at the beginning and middle of the concerned film or TV programme.

For films or programmes being made after Monday, a strong editorial justification for display of tobacco products or their use shall be given to the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) along with at least a UA (Parental Guidance) rating.

A representative from health ministry will also be present in the CBFC.

Also, the names of brands of cigarettes and other tobacco products will also have to be cropped or blurred.


12th November

 Offsite: Potatoes and Eggs...

Link Here
Brave music video from Pakistan pokes fun at the authorities See video from YouTube


5th November   

Update: A Wrong Message about Life...

Sri Lanka announces bill to establish a Board of TV Censors
Link Here
Full story: Sri Lanka's Killing Fields...UK's Channel 4 comes uder pressure from Sri Lanka over TV documentary

New legislation will be enacted next month to set up a Sri Lankan Board of TV Censors.

Cultural and Aesthetic Affairs Minister T.B. Ekanayaka said the draft Bill would be presented to the Cabinet next month and that it was backed by President Mahinda Rajapaksa who had received complaints of substandard programmes being aired.

He said the move was a result of numerous complaints received from parents and other concerned citizens regarding the poor quality of the programmes, claiming that some of the programmes aired had given rise to a number of social problems: Most of these programmes are substandard and target teenagers and young adults. They give young people a wrong message about life.

The minister added the Board of Censors would consist of eminent persons in various fields and will be similar to the board that scrutinizes films shown in the country.


3rd November   

Update: Diplomatic Censorship Declined...

Ofcom concludes that the Channel 4 documentary, Sri Lanka's Killing Fields, was neither biased nor misleading
Link Here
Full story: Sri Lanka's Killing Fields...UK's Channel 4 comes uder pressure from Sri Lanka over TV documentary

Sri Lanka's Killing Fields
Channel 4, 14 June 2011, 23:05

The documentary Sri Lanka's Killing Fields , which presented evidence of alleged war crimes in the final stage of the Sri Lankan civil war, generated 118 complaints and alerted Ofcom to a range of potential issues including impartiality, offensiveness and the broadcast of misleading material.

Sri Lanka's Killing Fields was a documentary which focused on: the conclusions of the UN report by the Secretary-General's Panel of Experts on Accountability in Sri Lanka ( UN Panel Report ) into the Sri Lankan civil war in 2008/2009; the actions and policies of the armed forces of the Sri Lankan Government and of the Tamil Tigers ( LTTE ) towards the civilian population at this time; and the call, by the survivors of the conflict, on the international community to investigate the potential war crimes set out in the programme.

The information about potential war crimes presented in the programme, which supported the UN Panel Report findings, was drawn from a dossier of evidence including film (such as mobile phone footage), photographs and eye witness accounts collected by Channel 4 in the previous two years.

The Sri Lanka government were also displeased with being shown in such a poor light. At the time of broadcast Sri Lankan diplomats and leading forensic video 'experts' contested Channel 4's claims of accuracy. They claimed that video footage used to support the killing fields story was faked or altered

Ofcom considered:

  • Due Impartiality and whether Channel 4 has presented the policies, arguments and actions of the sides involved in the conflict in a balanced way

Rule 5.5: Due impartiality on matters of political or industrial controversy and matters relating to current public policy must be preserved on the part of any person providing a service.

  • Misleading Material and whether the footage and eyewitness accounts obtained by Channel 4 (which was presented in the programme as the evidence that war crimes were committed) may have misled viewers through the broadcast of faked or manipulated material, and was presented in such a way that materially misled the audience.

Rule 2.2: “Factual programmes or items or portrayals of factual matters must
not materially mislead the audience.”

  • The programme included a number of images of murdered and tortured bodies, and also of partially clothed women who, it was suggested in the documentary, had been sexually abused prior to their death. Ofcom considered this material was potentially offensive.

Rule 2.3: In applying generally accepted standards broadcasters must ensure that material which may cause offence is justified by the context.

Ofcom Decision: Not in breach of the rules

Due impartiality does not mean an equal division of time has to be given to every view, or that every argument and every facet of the argument has to be represented. Due impartiality may be preserved in a number of ways and it is an editorial decision for the broadcaster as to how it ensures due impartiality is maintained.

In this case, Ofcom noted that:

  • Channel 4 did seek to include the viewpoints of the Sri Lankan Government and produced evidence that it had put all of the significant allegations included in the programme to them for a response in advance of the programme. As the Sri Lankan Government chose not to respond in full, Channel 4 could only broadcast the limited statement provided; |
  • the programme included - when the relevant evidence was presented - several official statements previously made by the Sri Lankan Government regarding the events in the final stage of the civil war. The narration at various points referred to the Government's official position. The programme also included clips of Government officials setting out that position stating for example that: there had been zero civilian casualties ; it was engaged in a humanitarian rescue operation ; all the civilians inside the no fire zones were rescued by government forces; and, that the first video of an execution shown in the programme was a fake. The programme also explicitly referred to the Sri Lankan Government's rejection of the UN Panel Report;
  • the subject matter of this documentary was clearly presented as being about the final stages of the Sri Lankan civil war, and in particular, the serious effects on many in the civilian population of the offensive of the Sri Lankan Government against the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) held areas of Sri Lanka. It was never intended to be an analysis of the entire conflict or the actions of the LTTE and Sri Lankan Government during the duration of the civil war as a whole. Consequently, the programme was only required to maintain due impartiality of the specific subject matter presented - which detailed the Sri Lankan Government offensive against the LTTE held areas at the final stage of the conflict. While the subject matter did present evidence which predominantly covered the actions of the Sri Lankan Government offensive, the documentary included explicit references to the LTTE activities at this time where this was relevant.

Ofcom therefore concluded that overall Channel 4 preserved due impartiality in its examination of the Sri Lankan Government's actions and policies during its offensive and there was no breach of Rule 5.5.

On the topic of faked or misleading material Ofcom noted that:

  • with regard to the overall editorial context, before the alleged faked footage was broadcast, the presenter Jon Snow explained that no international observers were allowed to enter the conflict zone and the official footage from the Government of Sri Lanka suggested its activities were humanitarian only. Therefore, the alleged footage of executions and torture, filmed on the mobile phones of Sri Lankan Government soldiers, according to Jon Snow represented public evidence of war crimes which demand proper investigation . Ofcom therefore concluded that the broadcaster provided viewers with this editorial justification for the inclusion of the mobile phone material and other supporting evidence;
  • the broadcaster took steps to ensure the view of the Sri Lankan Government – that the footage was faked – was made clear to viewers. With regard to the first clip shown, the presenter Jon Snow explained that the same footage had been shown previously on Channel 4 and it had been denounced as fake by the Sri Lankan Government . He then explained: the footage has since been authenticated by the UN although the Sri Lankan Government refuses to accept that . With regard to the second clip Jon Snow highlighted this was shocking new video evidence of the shooting of three bound prisoners filmed on a mobile phone. He also advised: we have had this footage analysed by experts who say it shows no signs of manipulation and appears to depict genuine executions. Metadata encoded within the video indicates it was recorded on 15 May 2009 in the last few days of the civil war ; and
  • the programme included eyewitness accounts and photographs to corroborate that the incidents of torture and sexual abuse recorded on mobile phones were not isolated, as well as other footage which the programme therefore claimed depicted systematic war crimes.

It is Ofcom's view that the broadcaster therefore ensured that the audience was not materially misled regarding the nature of the content by taking reasonable steps before the broadcast to establish that the material was not faked or manipulated, and informing the audience of those steps during the programme.

And on the subject of offensive images, Ofcom said that the images included in this programme, whilst brutal and shocking, would not have exceeded the expectations of the audience for this Channel 4 documentary scheduled well after the watershed with very clear warnings about the nature of the content.

Not in Breach of Rules 2.2, 2.3 and 5.5


2nd November   

Miserable Lawyers...

Bangladesh National Women Lawyers Association petition the High Court to demand that the government stops all porn in the country
Link Here

The Bangladesh High Court has asked the government to explain in four weeks why the spread of pornography should not be stopped.

The court came up with the rule as Bangladesh National Women Lawyers Association filed a writ petition as a public interest litigation seeking directives to end the spread of pornography through websites, mobile phone, CV, VCD, printed magazines etc.

The petition said the information technology is being abused to spread pornography materials and it should be stopped for the protection of private life.


1st November

 Offsite: The Hounding of Lanka-e-News...

Link Here
Full story: Internet Censorship in Sri Lanka...Installing ISP website blocking
State censorship of Sri Lanka's news

See article from


14th October   

Conspiracy Theory...

Indian film censor blanks dialogue implicating China in a conspiracy theory against India
Link Here

Indo-China relations are very sensitive, and have now affected a Bollywood film. The Censor Board has asked the makers of Azaan to mute out dialogue, which mentions China as being part of a conspiracy theory against India.

Director Prashant Chadha explained:

We have been asked to mute, and not beep out, a few lines. So, you will see people talking, but you won't hear anything. Our tagline is, 'A country, a conspiracy, a common man.' But now, there won't be any conspiracy angle for the audiences.

The general feeling is that everyone is aware of Pakistan's involvement (in terrorism) but no one has, till date, blamed China for it. But everyone knows of Chinese incursions and their aggressive stance against India. If you put Middle East, Syria or Pakistan, it's fine, but China shouldn't be mentioned.

The filmmakers want to take their case to the courts, but the review process will surely delay the film. So, for the time being, the film will release with muted lines.

The film has just been passed 12A uncut by the BBFC for showing in British cinemas.

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