On Tuesday, the Madras High Court conveyed displeasure about the type of content broadcasted on television, emphasizing that media should be more responsible with respect to what it selects for broadcasting.
A division bench of Justices N.Kirubakaran and B. Pugalendhi, on hearing the two PILs stated “Just because there is no censorship, television channels cannot display anything and everything on the screen. What effect does it have on children? Shouldn’t there be some control over what is being broadcasted?”
Adding to it, the High Court mentioned how at the time of the 26/11 attacks in Mumbai terrorists were using the news updates as a tool to carry out attacks. Giving the example of terrorists taking cues from our own television channels, they emphasized that there needs to be control over television and that the media should have some responsibility.
The bench further added, “While handling social issues, the media needs to be aware of what children are being exposed to. Children are easily affected and have a sensitive mind.” Important rules and regulations have to come in place as the electronic media is at an unavoidable level, so much so that even a newborn is staring at the screens in this internet age.
The Central Government reassured that commercial games were not being looked at as online gambling. Centre further has asked the court to respond to questions such as, “What is the number of addicted people? Have people lost their lives? The reality needs to be taken into consideration even if online gambling is being disguised as skilled games.”
An order was earlier imposed on the ban of broadcasting sexualized advertisements. While talking about advertisements, the bench reinforced that they are highly worried about the content that is being broadcasted. The High Court observed, “Awkward content, which is on the lines of pornography is broadcasted even during television’s primetime.” Adding to it, the High Court mentioned that for films there is a censor board to monitor its content, while they pondered if there was such censorship for advertisements. Despite the court considering this issue, sexual advertisements are still broadcasted.
Appearing for the Union Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Additional Solicitor General Victoria L. Gowri added that to monitor such content there are institutional mechanisms and under the Information Technology Act, there are measures to block obscene content.
She further mentioned that there is a certain restriction on what time sexual content must be broadcasted even if it is between 9 PM and early in the morning. The 1995 Cable Television Network Act is also applicable to content on the television.
The Bench was thoughtful of how broadcasting sexual content during stipulated hours could not be useful in today’s time as the schedule for children has also changed owing to their online classes. On Tuesday, appearing for Indian cricket team captain Virat Kohli, who is associated with fantasy sports platform Mobile Premier League (MPL), Senior Advocate C. Manishankar said that the Tamil Nadu Government has already initiated a ban on online games and online gambling.
Pointing out Dream11, Senior Advocate P.S. Raman said that the decision about it being a game of skill or online gambling has been upheld. The court was informed that Dream11 and MyCircle11 are not active anymore in Tamil Nadu and the companies are still waiting for legal advice following the ban on online games so that they avoid any form of risk.
As online gaming platforms have now been inactive in Tamil Nadu, Senior Advocate Mukul Rohatgi appearing for BCCI chief Sourav Ganguly added that the intention of the petition has now been fulfilled. “The extent of the PIL cannot be narrowed down, even if it is for celebrities,” said Additional Advocate General Sricharan Rangarajan.