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South Asia Censorship News

2013: Oct-Dec

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Foreign TV Banned...

Pakistan's state of Balochistan bans Afghan TV channels

Link Here18th December 2013
The Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra) in Balochistan, has banned relay of programmes of popular Afghan television channels by cable operators.

Pemra's Regional Director Jalal Khan told Dawn that Afghan TV channels RTA, ATN, Shamshad and Lemar had been shut because of instructions from headquarters of the organisation . He said he did not know the reasons.

The Afghan channels are popular among the people because they telecast programmes, including dramas and songs, in many people's mother tongue. The directive seems little to do with rights issues as Indian channels continue to be relayed to Balochistan.



Another safe family comedy...

India's generous tax subsidies for family films is making for an unadventurous industry

Link Here16th December 2013

While many in the Tamil film industry are glad that the state government provides a 30% tax exemption for U'-rated films, a growing number of filmmakers feel that there is a scramble for the 'U certificate that is taking the bite out of our films.

Director CS Amudhan revealed that there is a lot of pressure from the production and distribution side to make 'U'-rated films because they cannot afford to lose 30% of the revenue. He said:

Non-star films and small budget films have to be non-formulaic to get noticed. But it has become a business necessity to get 'U' certificate because they will not have the opening of a star-driven film.

He says He is now re-editing his upcoming Rendaavathu Padam after being told by the censor board that the film can only be given 'U/A certificate in its present form.

Producer Rajkumar said:

It is a big task to recover your investment after being taxed 30 per cent of your revenue, so producers are reluctant to take on out-of-the- box stories. This is the reason why we have many 'safe' comedy films these days.



Update: Unwarranted Website Blocking...

Reporters Without Borders asks Thailand to withdraw repressive new internet bill

Link Here16th December 2013
Full story: Lese Majeste in Thailand...Criticising the monarchy is a serious crime
Reporters Without Borders has asked the Thai Ministry of Communications and Internet Technology to change its approach to updating the Computer Crime Act of 2007.

The law already authorizes the government to arrest journalists and bloggers for political reasons. If a newly proposed amendment were adopted, the government would have even more latitude to muzzle the independent and opposition media. Reporters Without Borders said:

We support the five journalists association which have protested the bill. The bill -- in addition to eliminating a requirement for a judicial warrant to block a website -- would allow that action without approval from the Ministry of Communications and Internet Technology, thereby distancing the law even more from international standards.

The press freedom organization added, We request that the legislation be withdrawn in its entirety.

In a joint press release on 24 October, the Thai Journalists Association, the Thai Broadcasting Journalists Association, Online News Providers Association, Information Technology Reporters and Academic Specialists on Computer Law Group declared that the bill would threaten the very infrastructure of the internet and would make website operators, internet service providers and users responsible for content.



Not Funny...

Sri Lanka's stage censor bans satirical play

Link Here6th December 2013
The censor board has banned the latest edition of the popular political satire Pusswedilla from being staged in Sri Lanka.

The Director of Pusswedilla, Feroz Kamardeen, told the Colombo Gazette that the censor board had refused permission for the stage play on the premise that it supposedly criticizes the Commonwealth summit.

Kamardeen said that Pusswedilla Part 4.1 The Comon Welthings Summit was start on November 30. However two days earlier the censor board had informed Kamardeen that the play had been banned. he said:

Pusswedilla will be back. We will not back down. In keeping with the finest traditions of democracy we will continue to make fun of our political masters on both sides of the political divide. We will continue to exercise our freedoms of speech and expression that is guaranteed to us in our constitution.



The Art of Intimidation...

Gay art exhibition closes after threats from right wing moralists in Hyderabad

Link Here3rd December 2013
The Safdar Hashmi Memorial Trust (SAHMAT) Monday condemned what it called moral policing by the right-wing brigade of Hyderabad, which exerted pressure on an art gallery to cancel gay artist Balbir Krishan's exhibition.

The exhibition, on the theme of nudity and homosexuality, was displayed at the Muse Gallery in Hyderabad and enjoyed a smooth preview Saturday.

However, exhibition curator Kaali Sudheer received a call late night from someone claiming to be a right-wing activist who demanded that the exhibition end.

The gallery complied with the demand as the people making the threats had strong political connections .

An official statement from SAHMAT said:

The work was up on their (gallery's) website and social media, and it is clear there was nothing pornographic or obscene in the works which were male nudes. The gallery was fully aware of the work and had invited the artist to exhibit and the opening was well attended.

It is because the artist is gay that the moral police of the right has swung into action. Their threats and intimidation are in fact against the law, and the gallery should have complained to the police.



Update: Indian films are better than the local product so have to be banned...

Pakistani film censor refuses to issue certificates as the board gets caught up in a protectionism row with India

Link Here 29th November 2013
Full story: Banned Films in Pakistan...Sensitive issues of image and religion
In an unprecedented move by Lahore High Court, Justice Khalid Mehmood Khan issued a contempt notice to the Chairman of the Central Board Film Censorship (CBFC) and senior bureaucrat Syed Arshad Ali for failing to stop the exhibition of illegal foreign films in Pakistan.

The struggle to prohibit the exhibition of Indian films has been deeply connected to efforts to revive the fledging local cinema industry by veteran Lollywood and Punjabi filmmakers. They claim that Indian films hinder the progress of local filmmakers, and their economic gain on Pakistani soil is against the law.

As a result of the notice, the CBFC has refused to is issue a film certificate for the upcoming Bollywood film Bullett Raja .

Ali, the censor board's chairman, issued a statement to the press saying that the censoring of all films had been stopped, and the board would let the courts decide the matter. He maintained that the board had, so far, not censored any smuggled or illegal content; in fact all of the films (including Bullett Raja ) that had been stopped had already been approved by the Ministry of Commerce.



Update: Religious Wives...

Indian film censors ban Vedivazhipadu for offending religious sentiments

Link Here28th November 2013
Full story: Banned Movies in India...Sex, religion and easy offence
Indian Film censors of the Central Board of Film Classification have banned the new movie Vedivazhipadu by debutant director Shambhu Purushothaman. The movie was denied a censor certificate for supposedly offending religious sentiments.

The film tells of the activities of a few husbands when their wives are away for the pongala offerings at the famous temple at the capital city.



Religious Censor...

Sikhs call for representation on India's film censorship board

Link Here25th November 2013
The Sikh religious body, Shiromani Gurudwara Parbhandhak Committee, has demanded inclusion in India's Film Censorship Board for vetting any scenes relating to the Sikh community.

The group claims that such a step would prevent religious 'outrage' by being able to censor scenes that hurt the sentiments of Sikhs.

SGPC chief Avtar Singh Makkar said he had written a letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in this regard:

Since the Prime Minister is a Sikh, he can understand the sentiments of the community better. ]



Hurt Religious Feelings...

Bombay court queries the film censorship process leading to a film certificate for Ram-leela

Link Here22nd November 2013
The Bombay High Court has directed the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) to file a statement clarifying if all thecensorship guidelines were followed while issuing a certificate to Sanjay Leela Bhansali's film Ram-leela .

The court was hearing a petition seeking a ban on the usage of the word Ram in the film's title, which has supposedly hurt the religious sentiments of the Hindus.

The petition has claimed that the CBFC had failed to adhere to the censorship guidelines:

I submit that by giving the name to the movie as Ram Leela and showing the main character role by the name of Ram, the picturisation of songs with Lord Rama and his Vanri Sena and showing the main character as womaniser having all the bad habits, doing all illegal things of conducting a video theatre with porn movies is in fact a character assassination of Lord Rama which seriously hurts my belief in Lord Rama and his ideals.

The main grievance of the petitioner is that the respondents have intentionally named the feature film as Ram Leela so as to obtain undue publicity and income out of the revenues of the movie, that too at the cost of the religious feelings and sentiments of lakhs of people belonging to the Hindu religion.

The petition has been filed against the CBFC, producer and director of the film, and Eros International. The court directed all named parties to respond by November 27.

Update: Temporarily banned in state of Uttar Pradesh

22nd November 2013. See  article from

Ram Leela Has been temporarily banned in Uttar Pradesh by the Allahabad High Court. The film is banned while hearing a petition claiming that the film has controversial and objectionable dialogues and calling for the cancellation of the Censor Board certificate.

The petitioners also pleaded that since the film also hurt the sentiments of the Hindus by its name and other things portrayed in the film, it should be banned from exhibition.



Offsite Article: India: Digital freedom under threat?...

Link Here22nd November 2013
Full story: Internet Censorship in India...India considers blanket ban on internet porn
The rules India makes for its online users are highly significant, not only will they apply to 1 in 6 people on earth, but as the country emerges as a global power they will shape future debates over freedom of expression online.

See article from



Update: Making a Song and a Dance about Film Censorship...

Draft film censorship bill is published in India

Link Here23rd October 2013
Full story: Film Censorship in India...CBFC: Film censors and their cuts
A draft Cinematographic Bill has bee posted on India's Information and Broadcasting (I & B) ministry's website. Comments from the public are now invited.

The drafting committee have included a clause such that if a film has been awarded a certificate then this con then only be revoked by central government. Indian films have been targeted by by vested groups, religious campaigners and politicians all seeking localised bans on films, and the bill is seeking to end this rather chaotic situation.

The Committee has also sought to bring the classification of films up to speed by suggesting a shift to the internationally prevalent practise of age-related classifications and certifications. As against the current practise of U , U/A and A certification, the Committee has proposed to break-up U/A by age to 12+ and 15+ while retaining U and A . The bill also contains penalties of 1 to 3 years in jail, and/or large fines for showing films to underage viewers.

The Committee has also reviewed certain definitions contained in the Cinematograph Act, 1952, to incorporate the sea of changes in film-making. The word film under the proposed law will not be confined to the moving picture content of the film but will include songs and lyrics of the song. This has been done to give the film censors extended powers over songs that offend the easily offended.

The bill proposes that trailers, promotional clips, posters and other material should be certified by the Board or through industry associations.



Update: Woody Smouldering...

Blue Jasmine withdrawn from India over mandatory on screen smoking warnings

Link Here8th October 2013
Full story: Smoking and Drinking in Films...India wound up by smoking in the movies and TV
Blue Jasmine is a 2013 USA comedy drama by Woody Allen.
With Cate Blanchett, Alec Baldwin and Peter Sarsgaard. YouTube icon IMDb

Woody Allen' s Blue Jasmine will not be shown in India.

Allen is not one to compromise his artistic vision. He decided not to show the film in India rather than add legally required anti-smoking messages to two scenes.

PVR Pictures Ltd., the Indian distributor said the director considered the required additions, written warnings that appear on screen during scenes with smoking, and found them to be unacceptable.



The Maharashtra Black Magic Act...

Indian railways enforces a new law seeking to eradicate human sacrifices on trains

Link Here8th October 2013
India's Western Railway has banned advertisements carrying messages of tantriks, black magicians and occultists inside the coaches of suburban trains.

The ban has been enforced under the new Maharashtra Black Magic Act which seeks to eradicate human sacrifice, inhuman, evil and aghori practices.

The WR warned that the law stipulates a jail term of up to seven years if anybody is found pasting such advertisements in the suburban trains and thereby propagating superstitious practices and witchcraft.

The WR is continuing a drive to clean out coaches of such advertisements and has detected 156 cases of illegal pasting of stickers, an official said. Six people have already been sent to jail.

The witchcraft issue came to the fore after the killing of prominent anti-superstition campaigner Narendra Dabholkar in Pune August 20. His killers are yet untraced and are on the run.



Offsite Article: Social media becomes the scapegoat in India...

Link Here8th October 2013
Full story: Internet Censorship in India...India considers blanket ban on internet porn
The regulation of social media in India has been a subject of great controversy. By Mahima Kaul

See article from



No Fire Zone Under Fire...

Three documentaries about Sri Lanka banned from film festival in Kathmandu

Link Here4th October 2013
Three documentaries selected for Film Southasia 2013 (FSA), which has started in Kathmandu, Nepal, have been banned.

The FSA organizing committee was forced to cancel public screenings of Broken , The Story of One and No Fire Zone , which deal with the issues of post-conflict transition of Sri Lanka, following a directive from the Ministry of Information and Communications (MoIC.

Director Nayan Tara Gurung Kakshapati said the MoIC, in its letter, has not explained why public screenings of documentaries by Sri Lankan film makers have been banned. It is believed that the government took such an action as per a request made by the Kathmandu-based Sri Lankan embassy.

Kakshapati said Sri Lankan documentaries, despite being banned, will still be parts of the FSA-2013. We will not screen them publicly, said Kakshapati. But, they will now be screened privately. And the jury members will also watch and consider them for prizes.

No Fire Zone has also been recently banned from a screening in Malaysia.



Update: Bad Talk...

Pakistan province bans Skype, Whatsapp and Viber

Link Here4th October 2013
Full story: Internet Censorship in Pakistan...internet website blocking
Authorities in Pakistan's southern Sindh province have banned Skype , Whatsapp and Viber in the name of security, triggering angry reactions from numerous users of the instant messaging applications.

The decision to enforce the ban for three months was made at a meeting chaired by Sindh Chief Minister Qaim Ali Shah. Provincial Information Minister Sharjeel Memon announced said:

Terrorists and criminal elements are using these networks to communicate after the targeted operation was launched (against them).

Sindh's Home Secretary will contact the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority to have these applications banned in the province. According to Memon, the Sindh government would contact the federal government to ensure that illegal SIMs too are shut down.

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