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South Asia Censorship News

2016: Oct-Dec

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Miserable Bangladesh...

Bangladesh internet censors specify their first 500 porn websites for blocking

Link Here28th December 2016
The Bangladesh government has started an initiative to block several hundred pornography websites and already sent a list of more than 500 sites, mostly locally hosted, to ISPs.

The Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC) sent the list to all the mobile phone operators, international gateway operators, international internet gateway operators, interconnection exchange operators, internet service providers and other telecom service providers to block the domains from their respective networks.

After receiving the list the operators have started to comply with the directive. However, a few of the websites could not be blocked immediately due to technical challenges, said BTRC officials.

The government actually wants to create massive awareness about the issue and as many hurdles as possible in browsing those sites. Tarana Halim, state minister for post and telecommunications division, said:

Initially we have decided to block around 500 websites that contain pornography, obscene pictures and video contents. In the first phase we will go for blocking the locally hosted sites

The Daily Star has obtained a copy of an email that contained a list of 510 websites branded as pornographic by an 'offensive online content control committee'.



Update: Meat Wagon...

Jeremy Clarkson's The Grand Tour scores a big hit in India where there is a rich vein if sensitivity to offend

Link Here17th December 2016
Full story: Top Gear and the Grand Tour...Top Gear and Jeremy Clarkson wind up whingers
Amazon Prime Video has just launched in India, and have started on the wrong foot by censoring 30 minutes from an episode of The Grand Tour.

The fourth episode of The Grand Tour is listed as only 30 minutes in India, as opposed to the normal one hour. That's so that all references to a car made of meat could be excised from the show. It seems that India is a little meat sensitive for religious reasons.

It is reported that Amazon have made frequent recourse to blurring to censor more straightforward censorship issues such as nudity and other sexual content. Amazon are also quick to reach for the annoying bleep button when strong language is in the air.

The Amazon self censorship is a little confusing as this week, the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting clarified that it has no plans to censor online streaming services.



Not my cup of tea...

Goa's Culture Minister blames the breakdown of society on TV soaps

Link Here3rd December 2016
Warning: Fake News Alert: No sane and rational person would ever utter such bilge. This must be fake news...surely...

An Indian politician has blamed soap operas for the breakdown of society, saying that women become so caught up in them that they neglect to make their husbands a cup of tea.

Goa's Art and Culture Minister Dayanand Mandrekar made the ludicous claims while speaking at an awards function: He spewed:

Women are so interested in watching these serials, that once they start watching them in the evenings, they do not even pay attention to their husbands who come home after a long day at work. She is not even in the frame of mind to ask him whether he would like to have a cup of tea or not.

He also said that because of soap operas people do not even care about religious festivals in the village , claiming many residents only attend if there is a break in programming.



Update: The blind leading the blind...

Britain and Bangladesh start processes to censor internet porn.

Link Here30th November 2016

The Bangladesh and UK governments have started a process to block pornographic websites and stop publication of offensive contents in the countries.

The Bangladesh Telecommunications Division and British Board of Film Censors have formed committees to detect and block websites that contain pornography, vulgar picture and video contents, according to a news agency report.

The committees will make a three-level technical proposal by listing such websites ad contents within a week, State Minister for Telecommunications Tarana Halim said. The process to block these will start after getting the list and proposal, she said after a meeting on controlling offensive internet contents at the Secretariat .

A director general of telecoms regulators BTRC will head the committee, which will comprise representatives from National Telecommunication Monitoring Centre (NTMC), internet service providers (ISPs), mobile-phone operators and law-enforcing agencies. David Austin of the BBFC will spearhead UK censorship efforts.

Tarana said the drive against internet pornography will continue even after blocking the listed porn websites. And no doubt speaking for the UK too, she said:

The availability of internet pornography and offensive content is creating a negative social impact on all the citizens, including the adolescents.



Update: Minority censorship...

Pakistan's TV censor bans 11 christian channels

Link Here23rd November 2016
TV censors of the Pakistan Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra) have banned at least 11 Christian TV channels being run across the country.

The channels which have been blocked are Isaac TV, Gawahi TV, God Bless TV, Barkat TV, Praise TV, Zindagi TV, Shine TV, Jesus TV (Jessi TV), Healing TV, Khushkhabari TV, and Catholic TV , sources said. All the channels relayed religious programmes for Christians living in the country.

Pemra claimed the censorship was because the banned channels were broadcasting without licences but that was probably down to christian channels not being allowed to have licenses.

These TV channels are banned in line with ongoing Pemra campaign to ban illegal channels, Sheikh Tahir, the regulator's general manager media, told The Express Tribune . He said the blocked TV channels did not have licences to continue their transmissions.

Pemra seeks ministry's help in enforcing Indian DTH ban

In response to a question that why only Christian TV channels were banned, Sheikh Tahir, the Pemra's general manager medias claimed there was no segregation in the name of religion.

Talking to The Express Tribune , Nadim Anthony, a Christian advocate and rights activist, termed it a blow to the Christian minority of the country. Anthony said the blocked channels had a huge viewership, through which community members took religious guidance. He added:

There are so many Islamic TV channels functioning in the country but no one can dare ban them, which is discrimination.



Update: Kissing under caution...

Indian film censors agree proposals for new age classifications

Link Here9th November 2016
Full story: Film Censorship in India...CBFC: Film censors and their cuts
India takes its time over changes to film censorship law and similar ideas have been discussed several times before.

Now it is reported that India's film censors of the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) has accepted the recommendations of a government-appointed panel to introduce new movie categories.

The government appointed the panel led by filmmaker Shyam Benegal following allegations that the CBFC was stifling artistic freedom under the crazed CBFC chairman Pahlaj Nihalani .

The panel submitted its report to the Centre recently on restructuring the Cinematography Act and rules, under which films are categorised depending on the nature of its contents including adult themes. The panel has suggested adding more categories for films with explicit sexual content instead of CBFC's use of the scissors, which often leads to conflict with filmmakers over allowing kissing scenes, sexual content and cuss words in films.

The CBFC board  however questioned some of the new categories and how they will be defined, such as adult with caution . At present, films with explicit adult content are given an A certificate, a U/A certificate which mandates parental accompaniment for children below 12 and the U certificate for universal viewing.

The Benegal committee has recommended dividing the U and UA Categories to UA12+ and UA15+ and the A category to be sub-divided into A and AC (adult with caution) categories. The proposed A/C category will not include pornography, but will be a certificate for films with explicit sexual content or nudity.

Pornographic films or those that supposedly hurt religious sentiments or harm national security will still be banned.

Changes to India's film classifications will require new legislation.



Update: No religious freedom in Pakistan...

TV censors block 11 christian channels from cable TV

Link Here14th October 2016
Pakistan has banned 11 Christian television channels, after the country's TV censors declared them illegal in September presumably for religious reasons.

The move has left the country's 2.8 million christian residents with no public media presence, have called the move a blow to religious freedom. Local priests and various members of the local Christian community are calling the move an act of intimidation and an attack to religious freedom . They have appealed to the government to revoke the measure. Father Morris Jalal, founder of Catholic TV said:

As citizens, Christians have the right to practice their religion, but if they block you, it means not all citizens are equal. When someone bans the expression of faith, which is a fundamental right, there is persecution.

Saleem Iqbal, director of Isaac TV said:

We can only ask people to continue to watch us online. Many people are passionate about our channel, which is broadcast from Hong Kong. A ban on cable transmission will not stop us.



Courtroom Drama...

Stage censors are objecting to be made redundant in the Indian state of Maharashtra

Link Here9th October 2016
The Bombay High Court is hearing a case challenging the Maharashtra state law requiring that stage plays be pre-censored by the Maharashtra State Performance Scrutiny Board.

In fact the government had last month orally informed the court that as per a notification issued in March this year, pre-censorship of plays and dramas was no longer mandatory. But the government have been slow in backing up the oral statement with official documentation.

The Bombay High Court has now given Maharashtra government am October 18th deadline for providing written confirmation as an affidavit for the court.

Media reports suggest that it is the redundancy threatened Maharashtra State Performance Scrutiny Board that is objecting to the government's notification, and hence delaying proceedings.



Update: Roasted...

Pakistan's chief film censor gets a roasting in the Supreme Court for his arbitrary ban of the film Maalik

Link Here8th October 2016
Full story: Banned Films in Pakistan...Sensitive issues of image and religion
Pakistan's Central Board of Film Censors (CBFC) has conceded before the Supreme Court that the ban on feature film Maalik was imposed without inquiring into the allegations levelled by complainants against the film.

Chairman CBFC Mubashir Hassan conceded this before a two judge bench of the top court which on Friday took up the government's appeal against Sindh High Court's quashing of the government's ban of the film.

Hassan told the court that the board had banned the film on several complaints by the general public against the objectionable script maligning politicians and judiciary. He said that keeping in view the sentiments of public, the members of the board recommended banning the film.

Justice Qazi Faez Isa, on the bench, observed that volume of complaints of the public were meaningless unless these complaints are substantive.

Justice Umar Ata Bandial inquired under which law the ban was imposed. He added that there was nothing wrong with institutions being criticised. Justice Qazi observed that under section 9 of Motion Pictures Ordinance 1979 there was nothing objectionable in the film. Qazi reserved a few choice words for Hassan:

You approved the screening of the film and the other day you banned it as your mood changed on a single phone call. Isn't this effectively corruption? What do you people want? Do you want to devastate the Pakistani film industry?

What are you doing being a chairman of responsible institution? You are repeating like a parrot that the ban was imposed in regard with complaints. Is this the job you are doing?

Following the arguments, the top court directed the federal government to submit a report on objectionable contents in the film along with the objectionable part of the script in order to establish the de-certification of the film Maalik. The hearing of the case was adjourned for 15-days.



Update: Asking for a statement about unstated homophobia...

Indian court calls the CBFC's bluff over reasons for banning the gay themed film Ka Bodyscapes

Link Here3rd October 2016
Full story: Banned Movies in India...Sex, religion and easy offence
Ka Bodyscapes is a 2016 India / USA gay drama by Jayan Cherian.
Starring Adhithi, Tinto Arayani and Arundhathi. IMDb

Three young people, Haris, a gay painter; Vishnu, a rural kabaddi player and their friend Sia, an activist who refuse to conform to dominant norms of femininity, struggle to find space and happiness in a conservative Indian City.

A revising committee of the CBFC banned the film in July 2016 citing:

The revising committee felt that the entire content of the Malayalam feature film Ka Bodyscapes is ridiculing, insulting and humiliating Hindu religion, in particular portraying Hindu Gods in poor light. Derogatory words are used against women. The Hindu God 'Hanuman' is shown as coming in the books titled 'I am Gay' and other homosexual books. The film has also references to lady masturbating, highlighting 'gay' by many 'gay' posters. The film offends human sensibilities by vulgarity, obscenity and depravity.

The film makers have been contesting the ban in court and appear to have made progress. The Kerala High Court has set aside the recommendation of the revising committee of India's  Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) to ban the public screening of Malayalam film KA Bodyscapes , produced and directed by the New York-based filmmaker Jayan Cherian.

Justice P.B. Suresh Kumar also directed the revising committee to make clearer the reasons for banning the screening of the film with specific reference to the theme of the film and relevant guidelines. The court added that if the objection concerned only the depiction of the Hindu God Hanuman and the reference to masturbation of women and homosexuality, there was no need to ban the exhibition of the film, as the scenes could be deleted or modified.



Censorship spat...

Indian films banned in Pakistan reflecting tensions in Kashmir

Link Here3rd October 2016
Major cinemas in Pakistan have banned Indian films in what they call an act of solidarity with their country's armed forces.

The film boycotts have been announced in Lahore, Karachi and Islamabad. Big Pakistani cinema chains and screens say they have taken a spontaneous decision not to show Indian films for at least a couple of weeks, or until what they call normality returns in relations between the two countries. They admit their cinemas may suffer financially because of the popularity of Bollywood movies in Pakistan.

The move follows a rise in military tensions between the two countries over the divided territory of Kashmir.

A BBC correspondent explains that Bollywood movies are immensely popular in Pakistan, whose own movie industry, although enjoying a revival, is much slimmer. In fact Indian movies had been banned officially in Pakistan for many years for reasons of inter state tensions and the ban was only relaxed a few years ago.

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