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Saturday, 9 September, 2000, 15:07 GMT 16:07 UK
India cable TV purged of 'indecency'
Satellite dishes outside a television company office
Cable and satellite TV is booming in India
Tobacco and alcohol advertisements, together with 'adult shows', have been banned from India's cable television networks as part of a government effort to clean up private broadcasters.

Advertisements containing references that might offend religious sentiments are also prohibited.

The restrictions are the result of amendments to India's Cable Network Act and come into force on Saturday.


All programmes will now have to be in conformity with the code prescribing norms of decency and morality

Government spokesman
The move comes two months after the government allowed foreign television countries to broadcast to India via cable for the first time.

The new law bans the direct or indirect promotion of tobacco and liquor on cable television.

The government controlled channel Doordarshan does not broadcast such advertisements.

"The amendments have received presidential assent and will come into force immediately," said India's Broadcasting Minister Arun Jaitley.

Backlash

India's tobacco industry has hit back at the ban, insisting that less than 1% of their advertising funds are spent on television advertisements.

TV control room
Companies flouting the ban face equipment seizures
The industry also claims that such adverts are broadcast at selected times when children and minors are unlikely to be watching.

Adult shows, previously only allowed to be broadcast between 2300 and 0600, have now been banned completely under the more stringent rules.

"All programmes will now have to be in conformity with the code prescribing norms of decency, morality and national security," said a government spokesman.

The new rules also curb advertisements of baby milk, in an effort to boost breastfeeding in the country.

TV companies which flout the new rules face having their equipment confiscated.

Liberalisation

Despite the new restrictions, the moves are being seen as part of a process of liberalisation which has allowed cable and satellite broadcasters into India for the first time.

India's Information and Broadcasting Minister Arun Jaitley
Arun Jaitley says shutting down companies remains a final measure
"We are a liberal society. We will ban cable operators only in the rarest of rare cases. Power to ban any channel is only with the central government," said Mr Jaitley.

The measures are also designed to tackle widespread film piracy in India.

Broadcasters will now only be allowed to show films for which they hold the copyright or the authority of whoever holds it.

An estimated 50m Indians own TV sets, with another 100m believed to have access to television.

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See also:

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27 Jan 00 | South Asia
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