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TV broadcasters’ body issues advisory on portrayal of gender-based violence

The Broadcasting Content Complaints Council (BCCC) has issued an advisory on the portrayal of gender-based violence in television programmes, to ensure the same does not acquire vulgar forms for purposes of titillation or to propagate further subjugation.

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BCCC is an independent self-regulatory body established in 2011 by the Indian Broadcasting Foundation (IBF) to deal with complaints related to content.

Apart from exercising self-moderation in framing plotlines and ensuring that their depiction is subtle and nuanced, television channels have been asked that any portrayal of violence on television should be accompanied with an on-screen disclaimer, in English, Hindi and other regional languages, which states that gender-based violence is a penal offence and the concerned channel does not support or endorse any form of abuse.

BCCC is chaired by former chief justice of Jammu & Kashmir Gita Mittal.

As pointed out by BCCC’s earlier Advisory on ‘Portrayal of Women in TV Programmes’ (24 January 2012), the Council said it has noticed that some entertainment programmes overindulge in the portrayal of extreme forms of gender-based violence, which reinforce negative stereotypes.

“Dissenting narratives, which counter abuse and discrimination, and encourage society to treat such persons with respect and dignity have been the central theme of television serials on many general entertainment channels. Towards this end, mistreatment, assault and objectification of such persons on the screen are often sought to be justified on the grounds that such programmes, actually, seek to spread awareness and take a stand against the oppression of such persons,” BCCC said in a statement on Thursday.

While the on-screen portrayal of such incidents becomes inevitable to narrate the journeys of protagonists and eventually their victories to positively influence and inspire viewers, content creators must adhere to some standards of accepted decency and ostensible ‘sensitization’, BCCC said.

“A prolonged depiction of physical and psychological violence leaves an indelible impact on young minds and contributes to raising the threshold of our acceptance of all kinds of violence. Furthermore, such prolonged depiction, rather than bringing out the essential message of disapproval and condemnation of such violence, runs the risk of its unintended elaboration, contrary to what is designed by the channel,” the statement said adding that it is imperative to consistently combat routine normalisation of gender-based violence.

“Channels must exercise necessary prudence and caution while scripting, filming and editing such scenes. They should ensure that explicit visualisation of violence against such persons is minimised and the message that such violence is unacceptable and must be abjured is clearly conveyed,” the body said. Live Mint

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