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South Asia Censorship News

2012: July-Sept

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Update: A Church Background...

Indian catholics wound up a dancing priest in a movie

Link Here24th September 2012
Full story: Blasphemy in India...Hurting religious sentiments

The movie Kamaal Dhamaal Malamaal has ruffled nutter feathers even before its release.

A delegation of Catholics met with the Censor Board authorities to register their protest against the disrespectful portrayal of a Catholic priest and the community in the promos and advertisements . They also demanded that their requests for a permanent representative on the Censor Board in Mumbai be immediately fulfilled.

The secretary ofAssociation of Concerned Catholics (AOCC), Judith Monteiro told DNA that they've mailed the minister for Information & Broadcasting, Ambika Soni and the Censor Board chief Leela Samson conveying the community's displeasure.

Gen Secretary of Mumbai Youth Congress Agnelo Fernandes announced that the screening of the movie will not be allowed till the supposedly objectionable scenes were deleted.

The supposedly objectionable scenes include:

  • a priest dancing in a party with a person lying in a coffin with the crucifix beside him
  • the portrayal of a Catholic priest dancing with a lottery garland around his neck, with the church in the background.

Just because we don't protest like other communities, this has extended to ridiculing clergy. Do authorities react only to aggressive and violent protests? Are they pushing us towards it? asked Joe Dias, Catholic Secular Forum (CSF) general secretary.



Update: A Culture of Inappropriateness...

Afghanistan TV channels in trouble for supposedly inappropriate music videos

Link Here18th September 2012
Full story: TV Censorship in Afghanistan...Afghanistan TV, an unsuprising target for censors

The Afghan Ministry of Culture and Information has brought legal proceedings against two popular entertainment television channels.

The ministry said Setara TV and Saba TV had broadcast inappropriate content, including revealing foreign music videos.

The ministry said the content violated a new media law, which bans programs that are deemed an affront to Afghan culture.



Update: Blasphemy Law or Else!...

Pakistan extremist lays out nonsensical terms for ending protests and YouTube insults

Link Here17th September 2012

Around 10,000 people participated in a Lahore rally against the YouTube video, The Innocence of Muslims.

The rally was addressed by Jamatud Dawa chief Hafiz Muhammad Saeed, and other influential muslim groups.

Hafiz Saeed ludicrously claimed that the film, Innocence of Muslims , had been produced with the backing of US establishment.

He said the director, the producer and all those involved in the production and release of the movie must be hanged publicly and that:

The US must make a law against blasphemy -- or we will not let the US consulates in Pakistan function.

He said a resolution condemning the movie in the parliament was not enough. Instead, President Asif Ali Zardari must announce jihad against countries like the US that supported attacks on Islam. The Organisation of Islamic Countries Conference should announce a boycott of US goods.



Update: Parental Guidance on Smoking...

India censors will give a U/A (PG) rating to all films including smoking

Link Here17th September 2012
Full story: Smoking and Drinking in Films...India wound up by smoking in the movies and TV

All films shown in India that show a protagonist smoking will automatically be granted a UA [PG] certificate by the Censor Board of Film Certification, no matter what the rest of their content may be, a source from the CBFC told Times of India.

So even if a film like, say, Haathi Mere Saathi or Andaaz Apna Apna that children love, had featured a character blowing smoke rings, the censors would have had to grant it a UA certificate, according to the source.

In addition, the disclaimer regarding cigarette smoking has to have a voiceover from the person who smokes on screen. Hence in Heroine, audiences will hear Kareena Kapoor warning them against cigarette smoking at the beginning of the film and after the interval, said the source and pointed out that there'll be no exceptions.

Update: First Heroic Failure

17th September 2012. See  article from

Anti-smoking campaigners welcomed the Central Board of Film Certification's decision to give an A certificate to the upcoming movie Heroine , claiming the move will protect young children from getting exposed to tobacco use in the film.

In a letter addressed to CBFC chairperson, HRIDAY said that CBFC has taken the decision considering that almost 30% of the scenes in the film depict tobacco use.

As per the new directions of CBFC, the film will now have to show a statutory warning during every scene depicting tobacco use.


See article from

The Delhi High Court has allowed the release of Bollywood movie Heroine without display of static anti-smoking message in its smoking scenes.

Justice Rajiv Shakdher allowed the release of the movie, saying it is not appropriate for the government to disturb the state of affairs in interregnum.

The film is set to be released on September 21.




Kathmandu Police close art exhibition after blasphemy complaint

Link Here13th September 2012

Kathmandu Police have said that a painting exhibition by artist Manish Harijan in Babar Mahal-based Siddhartha Art Gallery has been closed.

The policeman in charge explained that the closure decision was taken to investigate the complaint of blasphemy resulting from the paintings of Hindu deities put on display.

Tension arose in the gallery after World Hindu Federation activists allegedly warned the artist against displaying images of Hindu deities combined with Western superheroes.

Meanwhile, UNESCO has expressed serious concern about a death threat against the artist. Axel Plathe, Head of the UNESCO Office in Kathmandu said:

The right to freedom of expression must also apply to artistic expression. Tension that may arise between artistic creation and religious and ethical values should be openly discussed instead of becoming a subject of intimidation or even death threat to the artist.



Untouchable Censors...

Indian director slams the censors who banned his film, Papilio Buddha

Link Here11th September 2012

Irate over India's Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) ban of his maiden film Papilio Buddha, Indian-American film-maker Jayan K. Cherian has denounced film certification by the government as an archaic practice and a blot on a mature democracy. He said:

It is pathetic to treat films, a fine art, as a mere industry. Worse, there's a draconian government body to censor it. Pity, it calls the shots at a time India is striving to be the champion of human rights, and is mobilising support for a permanent seat in the United Nations Security Council. The rationale for the survival of such a framework is colonial hangover.

The Censor Board listed a number of reasons for taking its present stand against Papilio Buddha, including:

  • anti-Gandhi comments
  • visuals denigrating Buddha and Dalit leader Ayyankali
  • violence against women
  • use of expletives.

Taking strong exception to the CBFC's contentions for denying certification to the film, Cherian said it was a simple, realistic portrayal of a displaced community's trials and tribulations, and its subsequent uprising depicted metaphorically.

The fictional film is set in a Dalit settlement called Meppara. It is filmed from the perspective of a youth Sankaran, a university dropout, whose insecurity and reticence are in stark contrast to the deep-rooted faith and conviction of his father Kandal Kariyan. The film is visual-driven and deftly skims through a host of groups mirroring real life political movements, a pan-Dalit movement, a Gandhian bent on pacifying a group of violent Harijans that resembles some belligerent eco-spiritual movements. Cherian explained:

My cinema is grounded, on-screen characters are essayed by actual Dalits, and their language is real, reflecting Dalit argot. Some expressions, borrowed from the prevalent lingo of Theyyam performers, seem to have been mistaken by the CBFC for cuss words. I've also made it a point to cast mainstream artistes to bring about a contrast.

Caste has stamped a deep scar across our society. It has a polymorphic nature, preventing permanent eradication as it mutates and takes on various forms.

Update: Censor's Tribunal

24th September 2012. See  article from

Makers of the Malayalam film Papilio Buddha , on the plight of displaced Dalits, have moved the Censor tribunal for certification after the Board's review committee suggested certain cuts and mutes which were not acceptable to them.

The Central Board of Film Certification's regional panel here had rejected the film outright on the ground that it contained denigrating remarks about iconic leaders, including Mahatma Gandhi, E M S Namboodiripad and Ayyankali.

However, on an appeal by the film's producers and New York-based director Jayan K Cheriyan, the CBFC's review panel watched the movie and suggested certain cuts and mutes before it could be publicly screened.

We rejected the suggestions as it will curtail the film's political space and affect its central narrative. We have now moved the Board's tribunal, Cheriyan told reporters.



Update: Thrown to the Wolves...

Indian cartoonist against corruption jailed on sedition charges

Link Here10th September 2012

Popular Mumbai cartoonist Aseem Trivedi has been sent to judicial custody till 16 September on charges of sedition, which is a non-bailable offence.

Trivedi was arrested on charges of displaying supposedly ugly and obscene content . Trivedi has charges framed against him under the IT Act, as well as the 1971 National Emblem act.

He had also exhibited similar cartoons at an India Against Corruption rally in December 2011 at the MMRDA grounds, following which his website was immediately banned.

The police are also bringing charges relating to his displaying cartoons at the 2011 rally in Bandra.

The cartoons which are grouped under the title, cartoons against corruption often feature derogatory depictions of politicians such as Digvijaya Singh and the Prime Minister. One of the cartoons also depicts the national Ashoka emblem as three wolves dripping blood from their jaws, with the title, wolves with the signs of danger .

Update: Bail

12th September 2012.  See  article from

A court in India has granted bail to an anti-corruption cartoonist arrested on sedition charges, after an application from a member of the public.

The Bombay High Court said that Aseem Trivedi could be released on bail if he paid 5,000 rupees ($90; 67).

But it is unclear if Trivedi will accept the bail. He has said he will not hire a lawyer or apply for bail himself until the charges are dropped.



Extract: Midnight's Children...

The film of Salman Rushdie's novel has failed to find a distributor in India

Link Here10th September 2012

It is an epic portrayal of the country's modern history and one of its best-known books of recent decades. But a film adaptation of Salman Rushdie's novel about India after independence, Midnight's Children, has plunged the author into new controversy in his native land.

Speaking at the film's premiere in Toronto at the weekend, director Deepa Mehta revealed that no Indian film distributor has so far bought rights to the film.

Salman has often said that the book was his love letter to India. I think the film reflects that love. What a pity if insecure politicians deprive the people of India to make up their own minds about what the film means, or does not mean, to them, the Hindustan Times, a leading Indian newspaper, has quoted the Indian-Canadian director as saying.

The film follows the narrative of the original novel and includes unflattering portrayals of top Indian political figures. Cinema experts in the subcontinent said the failure to find a distributor revealed a weakness in Indian democracy.

...Read the full article

Update: Distributor Found

21st October 2012. See  article from

Deepa Mehta need no longer be worried about the release of her film Midnight's Children in the subcontinent. She has finally found herself a distributor in PVR Pictures and her film based on Salman Rushdie's controversial novel of the same name will hit theatres in India before the end of the year. What's more, Rushdie's voiceover will remain intact in the movie, unlike what was being said earlier.

While Midnight's Children will now definitely see the light of day in India, there's still some cause for concern. In some time, the film will be shown to the CBFC (Censor Board of Film Certification). Of course, Gianchandani is confident the movie will not meet with any more resistance. There are unnecessary speculations, but I am sure there is no controversy associated with the film. I am not expecting any trouble with its release, he said.

Update: Playing Safe

30th December 2012. See  article from

Director Deepa Mehta rebuffed rumours that her latest film Midnight's Children, an adaptation of Salman Rushdie's acclaimed novel of the same name, is being banned in India. Mehta was in a Q&A session at the International Film Festival of Kerala (IFFK) where the film premiered on Monday.

However according to Mehta, PVR Pictures, the distributors of the film have asked not to screen the film for a second time before its theatrical release in the country in February 2013 in over 400 screens. Presumably so that any such screenings do not spark unnecessary controversy before the full release.

The film has now been passed A (adults only) after 1 line of dialogue was cut



Update: Freedom of Information Blocked...

Pakistan's governments orders ISPs to block all porn and supposed blasphemy

Link Here4th September 2012
Full story: Internet Censorship in Pakistan...internet website blocking

Pakistan's government has issued a key policy directive to block all blasphemous and pornographic material on the internet by installing an effective modern blocking system.

Following the personal interest shown by the incumbent Prime Minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf and after consulting President Asif Ali Zardari, the Ministry of Information Technology has already issued directions to the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) to update the system for effective monitoring and control of supposedly blasphemous and pornographic material.

Pervaiz Ashraf had initiated the move a few months back as minister for information technology and after having been shown supposedly blasphemous material that is freely available to internet users in Pakistan because of non-availability of blocking systems.

The policy directive has been drafted cautiously to ensure that the move does neither affect the freedom of information in any manner nor allows the authorities to misuse the facility beyond the mandated goal of blocking only blasphemous and pornographic material. Just like Pakistan doesn't allow the misuse of its blasphemy laws.

The dictate requires:

PTA to establish at the earliest a dedicated unit while allocating appropriate funds/budget and human resources, supported by the state of the art technical solutions and upgraded call centre, with the mandate to take requisite measures for proactively and independently blocking the websites displaying the blasphemous and pornographic content.

Update: Monitoring team

15th September 2012. See  article from

Pakistan will set up a monitoring team focusing on supposedly detrimental material to Islam and obscene material being released on the internet and being replicated in Pakistan. All anti Islamic sites would be fully monitored round the clock and remedial actions would be taken.

The decision was taken at a high level meeting chaired by Federal Minister for Interior, Senator Rehman Malik and attended by Federal Secretary Interior, Secretary Information Technology, Chairman PTA, Additional Secretary Ministry of Interior, Director FIA and other senior officers of the two ministries.



Miss Conceptions...

Indian students and teachers wound up by movie

Link Here3rd September 2012

An Indian film based on illicit sexual affair between a lady teacher and her boy student has incurred the wrath of the teaching community as well as women's organisations in Andhra Pradesh.

The release of the film, Sorry Teacher, has been deferred following the intervention of the state human rights commission as well as the high court.

In fact, the film has been facing troubles from social activists and teachers organisations right from the days of its shooting, when the producers announced its title: I Love You Teacher and released its promo poster.

Controversy flared up again when stills were posted on the Internet. Representatives of All India Democratic Women's Association (AIDWA) and United Teachers Federation (UTF) staged protest demonstrations before the office of Censor Board for Film Certification, which has apparently given a U/A certificate (children allowed only with parental accompaniment).

 AIDWA state president T. Jyothy spouted:

The film is a disgrace on the teaching community. The relationship between a teacher and a student is very sacred. But going by the pictures of the film, it is evident that the film-makers have sought to project illicit affair between the teacher and the student. The movie is clearly obscene.

The Progressive Democratic Students Union rallied in Hyderabad demanding that the government completely ban the film. Leader . Sandhya said:

It is a blot in the teaching community and as an affront on the society and human values.



Update: Pending Further Discussion...

India orders film censors to do their job and certify films for TV

Link Here1st September 2012
Full story: TV Censorship in India...India considers the regulation of TV for adults

The Indian film industry, which has been battling to overturn a unilateral censor board decision to ban A-rated films from television, can heave a sigh of relief, at least for now.

This newspaper has learnt that the Information & Broadcasting Ministry has stepped in to resolve the deadlock by asking censors to continue cutting films for the small screen until suitable amendments are made in the Cable Television Act.

Once these changes are in place, however, the censors may get their wish that a majority of the re-certified movies can be shown on TV only after 11 pm. The censors contend that some of these films, no matter how extensive the cuts, deal with themes that are unsuitable for younger audiences.

The idea of an 11pm watershed for adult A rated films was demanded by the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC). When the TV companies refused to play along with the idea, the CBFC protested by working to rule and refusing to certify any adult films for TV. A CBFC certificate is a legal requirement for films shown on TV.

Update: A Gathering of TV Censors

21st September 2012. See  article from

To put an end to controversies on the lines of the TV telecast of the Vidya Balan starrer Dirty Picture , an umbrella body is being mulled that will pre-censor films to be telecast on television.

The self-regulatory body comprising representatives from the film industry, Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC), information and broadcasting ministry and the Broadcast Content Complaints Council (BCCC) will decide whether the film in question is suitable for TV telecast on the basis of content and also fix a particular time slot.

This proposal which is at an initial stage has come from the CBFC and is being positively considered by the BCCC and the I&B ministry, said an official on condition of anonymity.

Update: A more representative committee

18th October 2012. See  article from

We've learnt Censor Board Chief Leela Samson flew down to Mumbai and met up with filmmakers Yash Chopra, Mukesh Bhatt, Ramesh Sippy, Siddharth Roy Kapoor, Ashutosh Gowariker, Harry Baweja and top producers from the South at Hotel Sahara Star in Andheri East. CBFC CEO Pankaja Thakur was also present.

Most importantly, a decision was taken at the meeting to form a separate committee to review films that are rejected by the censor board for TV viewing.

The committee will comprise members from different walks of life and will include directors, actors, judges, social activists, teachers as well as CBFC representatives.

Once the CBFC identifies the objectionable movies, the committee will then take a call as to what time they should be slotted, whether prime time or post 11pm. The committee will reserve the right to reject a film that they find totally unfit for small screen viewing.



Pakistan Doesn't Like being Portrayed as the Baddies...

Film censors ban Indian spy film

Link Here29th August 2012

Pakistan's Censor Board has banned Salman Khan's Ek Tha Tiger for its depiction of Pakistani intelligence operatives, the second Bollywood film to suffer such a fate this year. Ek Tha Tiger was one of the most anticipated Indian films of the season.

Muhammed Ashraf Gondal, vice-chairman of the Central Board of Film Censors, said the movie was problematic for screening in Pakistan for its depiction of the country's security agencies:

We have strict criteria due to which films that have themes that touch on anti-terrorism and are against Pakistan's national institutions or security agencies ultimately have to be censored because they are against the national interest.

According to media reports, Katrina Kaif plays the role of a Pakistani spy posing as a scientist's part-time home caretaker in Ek Tha Tiger .

It is the second Bollywood film to be banned this year for its depiction of Pakistani intelligence operatives, the first being Saif Ali Khan's Agent Vinod.



Updated: Disruptive Text...

India bans bulk text messages in response to panic by migrant workers

Link Here28th August 2012

The Indian government has banned bulk text messages in an attempt to halt the exodus of thousands of migrant workers from Bangalore and other cities following false warnings of attacks on them.

An estimated 15,000 people from Assam and states in north-eastern India, many of whom suffer racial abuse and discrimination in other parts of the country, have fled India's IT capital and other cities including Chennai, Mumbai and Pune, after receiving text messages warning them of imminent attacks.

The messages spread panic among the minorities who were already fearful following recent clashes between members of Assam's Bodo tribe and Bangladeshi settlers in the state.

A member of the Bodo tribe working as a security guard in Hyderabad was attacked and told to go home . By the time a series of text warnings went viral on Wednesday, thousands of migrant workers from the north-east besieged train stations in Bangalore and other cities.

Two special trains were deployed by Indian Railways to help about 6000 people return to their homes.

Update: India under religious 'cyber attack' from groups in Pakistan

21st August 2012. See article from

The Indian government said it would share with Pakistan evidence of its people and organisations uploading inflammatory and objectionable content on the Internet to incite religious sentiments in India, which led to the exodus of northeast people from various States.

Meanwhile, the government blocked 89 more websites on which morphed images and fake videos were uploaded from across the border.

Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde has conveyed to his Pakistani counterpart Rehman Malik that New Delhi would share with Islamabad all evidence of the involvement of certain Pakistani groups and individuals in the uploading of morphed images and videos to spread rumours and create communal tension in India, Home Secretary R.K. Singh told journalists here. Investigations revealed that a majority of these images were uploaded in Pakistan.

The Home Ministry has identified more websites and blogs carrying hate messages, pictures and videos. On its directions, the Department of Electronics and Information Technology (DEIT) has blocked 89 more websites, taking the total number of sites jammed in the past three days to 245.

This episode has turned out to be the biggest instance of cyber warfare against India in recent times. The focus is on a Pakistan-based militant group said to be behind doctoring images and videos and uploading them on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

Update: Twitter in the Firing Line

22nd August 2012. See article from

Twitter might face legal action if the popular microblogging site does not comply with Indian government's demand to censor supposedly objectionable content posted by its users.

Stung by the misinformation campaign that spread via SMS, Facebook, YouTube and Twitter in past weeks, the Indian government now seems to be moving ahead with its initial threat to tighten the noose around social media.

Update: India censors Twitter imposters

25th August 2012. See  article from

In the wake of widespread discontent on the social media over its decision to block certain Twitter accounts, including that of journalists, the government has been spinning a line on censorship.

Following fake messages about the Assam violence, Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde said that social media accounts which have posted objectionable and inflammatory content are being blocked but claimed there was no censorship.

We are only taking strict action against those accounts or people which are causing damage or spreading rumours. We are not taking action against other accounts, be it on Facebook, Twitter or even SMSs. I assure you about this.

There is no censorship at all. We decided on taking action because there were pictures of Myammar etc online, which were disturbing the atmosphere here in India. I am again reassuring you.

The government's clarification came in the wake of it asking Twitter to block some imposter accounts of the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) and other social media sites. Twitter has agreed to block all fake accounts using the name of the PMO.

Update: India censors images of Muslim unrest in Burma as these were being captioned as occurring in India

26th August 2012. See  article from

India has blocked access to certain pages of the ABC's website as part of a crackdown on internet content which it claims incites racial hatred.

The government has blamed internet activity for fanning fears that resulted in thousands of migrants fleeing to the north-east last week from Bangalore, Chennai and Mumbai.

The government says the migrant workers feared they were going to be attacked by Muslim mobs, so it responded by blocking more than 300 websites it says incite hate and panic.

The blocked material includes web pages, images and links on sites including Facebook, Twitter, Wikipedia, the ABC and Qatar-based Al Jazeera.

Among the blocked content were photographs by AFP and other news agencies from Burma in the British Daily Telegraph, a parody Twitter account pretending to be from prime minister Manmohan Singh and dozens of YouTube videos.

India's home minister, Sushil Kumar Shinde said that the government sought to block the Burma online photos because they were disturbing the atmosphere here in India . The government said photographs of clashes in Burma were circulating on the internet with fake captions claiming the scenes were from the north-eastern Indian state of Assam, where 80 people have died in recent ethnic violence.

Update: Blunderbuss Censorship

28th August 2012. See  article from

Indian ISPs have routinely blocked web domains on government orders but there was something unique about the latest blocking that we haven't seen before in India.

Airtel employed keyword based filtering and any web page that had the term youtube anywhere in the URL was being blocked. For instance, the Wikipedia website was accessible but the page was not as it contained the youtube keyword.

After word spread on Twitter, Airtel quickly unblocked the site and issued a statement to The Wall Street Journal saying:

Bharti Airtel is in compliance with all government directives on public access to websites. In continuation with this, select URLs as notified by the government have been blocked.



Update: TV Tantrums...

India's film censors end service to cut down adult rated films for TV

Link Here25th August 2012
Full story: TV Censorship in India...India considers the regulation of TV for adults

India's Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) told Mumbai Mirror that it has decided to stop re-certifying A-rated films for TV, thereby making them ineligible for television screening.

It's a decision that is now threatening to derail several top-of-the-line production houses which make a chunk of their profits from the advance sale of satellite rights.

A number of big-ticket films, including Aamir Khan's home production Delhi Belly , Anurag Kashyap's Gangs of Wasseypur (parts 1 and 2) and Vikram Bhatt's Hate Story are waiting for CBFC clearance. The satellite rights of many of these films have already been sold to broadcasters for big money.

When contacted, the censor board's CEO Pankaja Thakur confirmed that the re-certification had stopped already:

We're no longer modifying and certifying films to make them suitable for TV viewing, she said. This was not a part of the Cinematograph Act. We would like it to be included in the Act, but that is up to Parliament.

The controversy began last month when objections were raised with the manner in which The Dirty Picture had been modified for TV, with a case filed against its telecast.

The CBFC then told the film producers that they should specify to TV channels that all modified A-rated films should only be shown only after 11 pm. This suggestion was accepted for The Dirty Picture , but the producers of Jannat 2 , fearing a loss of revenue in satellite rights, challenged the CBFC's guideline in the Film Certification Appellate Tribunal (FCAT). The FCAT ruled in the film producer Mahesh Bhatt's favour, and told CBFC that it could not decide the slotting of films on TV.

Thakur explained that the CBFC were miffed at not being able to inflict transmission times and had decided to work to rule:

The modification of A-rated films was a facility that the CBFC was extending to the film industry to help them show their movies on TV. If we were doing something extra for them, we had a right to attach certain riders to it. Since this 11 pm condition is unacceptable, we have decided to go strictly by the original Act. We want the role of the CBFC to be redefined. If we are supposed to modify or re-certify films for TV viewing, it should be specified in the Act.

The film industry is now starting to panic. Insiders say that satellite rights of a movie constitute nearly 40 per cent of its gross earnings. A producer said:

If the film cannot be telecast, won't the channel want a refund? And hereafter, won't Adult films have no buyers whatsoever?

Mahesh Bhatt added:

This is a very serious matter. The film industry will have to lock horns with the government. We might require judicial intervention, or the entire economics of the film industry will go topsy turvy.



Provincial Vulgarity...

Indian State to set up its own film censor

Link Here25th August 2012

The Indian State of Punjab's government has decided to establish a censor board of its own, invoking ire of the I&B ministry's Central Board of Film Certification.

Punjab cultural affairs minister Sarwan Singh Phillaur announced the state government's decision to set up a censor board, a first of its kind ever by any state in India.

The objective is to screen the content shown in videos and the lyrics so that the censored content reaches the public said the minister.

However, a furious CBFC immediately denounced the state government's plan, dubbing it as a separatist move. CBFC CEO Pankaja Thakur said:

Censorship is a central subject and only enforcement is a state subject. The Punjab government should have written to us before deciding something on their own. They should make attempts to strengthen the existing censor board . This move is tantamount to a clear breach of law

At present, the censorship of films, music videos and documentaries in India is controlled by the CBFC under the Cinematograph Act, 1952.



Provincial Vulgarity...

Pakistani province to set up its own film censor

Link Here25th August 2012

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (previously NorthWest Frontier) Information Minister Mian Iftikhar Hussain has directed officials to establish censor board in the province in the light of the 18th amendment to eliminate the supposed menace of vulgarity and obscenity.

The minister said that along with promoting positive cultural activities in the province, theatre plays on the lives of national heroes would also be staged.



Update: The Long Nudge...

Indian government still debating actions against smoking in movies

Link Here20th August 2012
Full story: Smoking and Drinking in Films...India wound up by smoking in the movies and TV

In the latest chapter of a long running Indian debate about films containing cigarette smoking, the I&B ministry has asked the Censor Board to ensure that a film containing smoking scenes also carries two 20 second anti-tobacco warnings voiced by the actor who is seen smoking in the film. One at the beginning of the movie and one after the interval.

The ministry has also asked the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) that a written anti-smoking warning of appropriate size is presented on the screen through the duration of the scenes in which an actor is smoking.

Last year on September 27, the Health Ministry had through a notification come up with a set of anti-tobacco rules in the films meant to be implemented from November 2011 onwards. However, on several points the Health and the Information and Broadcasting ministries were not on the same page. The matter was then referred to the Law ministry which suggested both ministries to come to an understanding.

Sources said while some points suggested by the Health ministry had been incorporated now, some of the other suggestions were yet to be accepted. The Health ministry had wanted one of its representatives in the Central Board of Film Certification, which is still being contested by I&B ministry.

Another point of variance between the two ministries revolves around the Health ministry's contention that each film which has a smoking scene should be automatically classified U/A. The I&B ministry was not in favour of implementing such a rule, sources said.



Offsite Article: India's face-off with internet freedom...

Link Here15th August 2012
Full story: Internet Censorship in India...India considers blanket ban on internet porn
Internet censorship by Marta Cooper

See article from



Updated: Banning the Best Bits...

Pakistan cable TV companies blank out news of Supreme Court case

Link Here14th August 2012
Full story: TV Censorship in Pakistan...TV under threat from morally minded courts

At a joint meeting of Pakistan's cable operators and TV channel-owners, it was decided that they would all blank out Supreme Court proceedings from a case against them.

The court is hearing a case accusing the TV companies of airing obscenity and supposedly illegal Indian channels.

It was decided that even top news anchors would be bound by their respective managements not to touch these issues.

Almost all owners or senior executives of top Pakistani channels including ARY, Geo, and Express agreed to follow the decision of the Cable Operators Association.

According to sources, cable operators had threatened TV channel-owners that if they did not follow the decision, their channels would be put at the end of the tuning list in distribution networks across the country. The cable operators made it clear that they would not accept any demand for the closure of illegal Indian channels particularly Star Plus and Sony which brought them money.

Update: Supreme Obscenity

14th August 2012. See  article from

Pakistan's Supreme Court has directed the TV censors of the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) to set the parameters for discouraging programmes and advertisements supposedly showing obscenity on TV channels.

A three-member bench heard proceedings regarding nutter accusations of obscene and other objectionable material. The court gave four weeks to PEMRA for completing the process and directed to clearly define obscenity and submit a compliance report.

Appearing on notice, Acting PEMRA Chairman Dr Abdul Jabbar informed the court that he took all possible measures for discouraging obscenity on TV channels, adding that there were many complaints against obscenity on cable. He told the court that PEMRA had fined TV channels spreading sectarianism, besides issuing notices to cable operators and TV channels for running advertisements and programmes containing obscenity.

The Criminal Justice of Pakistan asked the chairman that serving notices on TV channels was nothing but eyewash and that effective measures should be taken on urgent basis.

Update: Words in Parliament

29th October 2012. See  article from

The National Assembly has unanimously passed a resolution expressing serious concern over the broadcasting of illegal foreign channels through cable network, the supposed growing trends of obscenity and indecency through local channels and the unchecked flow of blasphemous and vulgar material through the internet into Pakistan in violation of the Constitution and the relevant laws.

The resolution, moved by the PML-N appreciated that the Pakistani media itself has initiated a debate on the issues of illegal foreign channels and obscenity while the Supreme Court has also taken suo moto notice of the same.



Update: Whinge Counters...

Indian TV censors make their first annual report

Link Here13th August 2012
Full story: TV Censorship in India...India considers the regulation of TV for adults

India's newly formed council of TV censors has made its first annual report to the Indian Information and Broadcasting Ministry.

It said that it had received 717 specific complaints, of which 47% were about supposed obscenity and nudity while 16% were regarding depiction of violence. 7% complaints related to TV content supposedly hurt religious and cultural sentiments. The report said that nearly 16% of specific complaints pertained to the theme of crime and violence and many of these were against shows based on actual crime cases.

Referring to the complaints related to sex, obscenity and nudity, the Broadcasting Content Complaint Council report said that a large number of such complaints were found to be violating Indian Broadcasting Federation's self-regulatory guidelines. The report said:

The BCCC directed some channels that since these programmes were not suitable for telecast during general viewing hours, they should suitably modify the content and air such programmes during restricted viewing hours.

In some cases, channels completely took programmes off air.

The main concern was use of vulgar language by participants and the alleged obscene acts performed by them during the shows.



Just Like Britain Then...

Pakistan invokes internet censorship to block celebrity tittle tattle

Link Here11th August 2012

The Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) has ordered all Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to block numerous 'scandalous' internet sites, specifically the audio recording of a sensual conversation between two notable opposition parliamentarians.

The footage of a press conference in which a lady TV news anchor, Aysah Sana, claimed that she and a man working with a state organisation have secretly got married and they have a son, is also to be blocked. She made the allegations against the boss of a TV channel who she accuses of betraying her.

This is the first time that the PTA has moved swiftly to order blocking of 'scandalous' websites. Wahajus Siraj, Convener of the ISP Association of Pakistan (ISPAK), said the process on ordering of blocking of websites have become non-transparent and questionable, as it seems that Inter-Ministerial Committee is being used as tool to censor internet for political gains instead of going after the intended anti-Pakistan or blasphemous websites.

One leading ISP said that with five GSM service providers and numerous broadband service providers are to challenge the order.

ISPs also pointed out that blocking popular social media sites like Facebook, YouTube and Twitter can create major unrest among millions of subscribers which then has a direct impact on the revenue of ISPs.



Caught in Slips...

Kate Perry winds up nutters in show for the Indian Premier League

Link Here19th July 2012

The opening show of the Indian Premier League in April is being threatened with court action against supposed indecency.

The show featured cricketer Doug Bollinger, singer Katy Perry and Bollywood star Amitabh Bachchan. It seems that Kate Perry's performance is the target for the nutter action.

Madras High Court has ordered a hearing on the accusations on July 31, although the superstars will not be required to attend because they have not yet been formally charged.

The court was acting on a public interest complaint filed by a lawyer which alleged the opening show of the Indian Premier League (IPL) in April was obscene and lascivious, appealing to prurient interest . The complainant, K Jebakumar, ludicrously claimed that the show had distracted students who were writing exams at the time and pursued legal action under the Indian Penal Code.

Top Bollywood actress Priyanka Chopra and IPL chairman Rajeev Shukla were also cited in the complaint, the Press Trust of India news agency reported.

The court will rule whether the complaint is justified, and if so, whether formal charges can be laid against the accused.



Update: Media Control...

Sri Lanka set to drag websites into its censorship system

Link Here19th July 2012
Full story: Internet Censorship in Sri Lanka...Installing ISP website blocking

Sri Lanka will amend its current media law in order to bring in all news websites and electronic media into its censorship net, the government said, a week after it raided and temporarily closed down two anti-government websites.

The amendments to the Press Council Law enacted in 1973 will allow the government to order websites and electronic media to follow media codes in addition to print media.

Media Minister Keheliya Rambukwella told Reuters:

We will bring amendments to the Press Council Law to include the electronic and web media to ensure accountability.

Manik de Silva, a director of Sri Lanka's Press Complaint Commission and a member of the country's Editor's Guild said:

This is obviously to control the media. Any strengthening of media laws will be used to further the interest of political parties in power rather than the national interest.



Cinema Prohibition...

Indian MP seeks to introduce bill to ban liquor from cinema films and TV

Link Here14th July 2012

In a move that has been described as an attempt to Talibanize the country's entertainment industry, a BJP MP from Gujarat has sought a ban on scenes involving alcohol consumption in films as well as on television. Mahendrasinh Chauhan has issued a notice to the secretary general of the Lok Sabha seeking the introduction of a bill in this regard.

Filmmaker Mahesh Bhatt, who has been fighting against attempts to ban smoking in films, said:

Censorship in any form is the enemy of creativity. Our elected representatives are now trying to hurl the film industry into the dark ages from which we thought we had emerged. The beast of censor has to be fought tooth and nail by those who love free speech.

Film writer Sanjay Chauhan described the MP's move as a fascist one:

It will strangulate freedom of expression. Politicians cannot dictate to us like Hitler (did). Alcohol is a part of the lifestyle and culture of our country. How can you keep it out of our cinema?

Commentators are tracing back the idea for the ban to study by Public Health Foundation of India that claimed that schoolchildren who watched Bollywood films were 2.78 times more likely to have tried alcohol as compared to those who were least exposed.



Naked Censorship...

Bangladesh man arrested for Facebook post with photoshopped image of prime minister

Link Here13th July 2012

Bangladesh police have arrested a businessman after he allegedly edited together a photograph of the country's female prime minister, Sheikh Hasina,with that of a half-naked woman on his Facebook page.

Police following up a tip-off visited Shariful Islam's home and found the doctored pictures of the premier on his computer, the local police chief Chowdhury Abul Kalam said.

Islam, an owner of an advertising firm, also doctored the pictures of the home minister and some other ministers , Kalam said, adding that the accused faced up to 10 years in jail if found guilty on defamation charges.

Bangladesh authorities have launched a series of prosecutions this year over material on



Update: One Hundred Cuts...

The Dirty Picture suffers in the name of a primetime TV broadcast

Link Here11th July 2012
Full story: TV Censorship in India...India considers the regulation of TV for adults

The Dirty Picture has been passed for daytime TV broadcast after nearly 100 cuts.

The controversial A (18) rated film had already suffered 59 cuts for a U/A certificate that would allow it to be shown on TV after 11pm.

Sources said the producers of the film approached the Central Board for Film Certification (CBFC) volunteering an additional 40 cuts for a U certificate. Certain words have been muted while 3-4 minutes of the film have been chopped off.

The Information and Broadcasting ministry had previously stepped in to stop screening of The Dirty Picture on prime time TV after an April 19 order of the Lucknow bench of the Allahabad High Court had asked the ministry to ensure that the telecast of the movie did not violate guidelines.

The I&B ministry had then turned to CBFC for advice which had said the U/A certificate given to the film after several cuts meant that parental guidance was a must. CBFC had also asked the ministry to tell all channels, which are planning to telecast U/A rated movies in near future , to do so only after 11 pm.



Update: The Age of the Dirty Picture...

India settles on age classifications of 12 and 15 to replace the existing U/A certificate

Link Here4th July 2012
Full story: Film Censorship in India...CBFC: Film censors and their cuts

India's information and broadcasting ministry and the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) want to introduce two age categories, 12+ and 15+ instead of the current U/A category so that parents have some idea on whether a film should be watched by their children or not. A censor board spokesman said:

U/A does not mean the film is okay for children to watch. It means that parents should use their discretion. A clear indication of which age is suitable for a film is the best way to avoid any confusion.

For both 12-plus and 15-plus-certified films, children will have to be accompanied by adults to a theatre and may need to show age proof, if asked. Under current rules, a child of 12 years or older can watch U/A films with adults in a theatre.

Sources in the I&B ministry said it had become imperative for the censor board to ensure clarity on which films could be allowed for unrestricted viewing by children. Officials said the step to review the U/A certification became necessary after an uproar over a TV channel slotting The Dirty Picture in the afternoon, when children are likely to watch television.

The changes will be brought through an amendment to the Cinematograph Act, likely to be tabled in the monsoon session of Parliament.

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