Viacom contests broadcast ban on Comedy Central for ‘obscene’ and ‘derogatory to women’ shows in India

Comedy CentralViacom is contesting a 10-day broadcast ban on its Comedy Central channel in India.

The Indian information ministry hit the channel with a ban after it found that Comedy Channel had breached moral guidelines for cable channels.

India’s high court upheld a finding from the ministry that two Comedy Central shows – Stand-Up Club and Popcorn – had breached the 1994 Cable Television Network Rules.

Update: the ban has now temporarily been lifted, after Viacom agreed to not the air the shows.

One of the shows depicted showed simulated sex with a doll, the other contained sexual swearing deemed denigrating to women.

“The portrayal in the programme did not appear suitable for unrestricted public exhibition and children,” the government order read, referring to a performance on Stand-Up Club on 26 May last year.

“During his performance, the man was shown uttering dialogues denigrating women, indecently and crudely referred to sex organs of men and women and the sing-song rendition by the man sought to pornographically describe the male lust, depicting women as a commodity of sex,” the order read.

In the show Popcorn, which aired on 4 July, a prank is played on the public involving a man who has simulated sex with a dummy in the window of a shop.

Viacom is now contesting the ban, the Wall Street Journal Asia is reporting.

The ministry had ordered the entertainment channel on May 17 to go off air from May 25 to June 4 for telecasting “obscene dialogues and vulgar words derogatory to women” on May 26, 2012 in a programme titled ‘Stand Up Club’ and on another programme titled ‘Popcorn’ on July 4, 2012.

The high court concluded: “Considering that the penalty could be prohibition of telecast up to 30 days for first violation and up to 90 days in case of second violation, the penalty imposed upon the channel cannot be said to be excessive or unreasonable.”

“Even if one were to exclude the second violation i.e. telecast of the programme Popcorn from consideration, the penalty, prohibiting the telecast for 10 days for the first violation alone cannot be said to be excessive, harsh or unreasonable,” the court said.

Viacom declined to comment on potential advertising revenue lost as a result of the ban at the time of writing.

The news comes the day after Viacom launched Comedy Central into two new markets – Malaysia and the Philippines.


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