No kids play, this

Jinoy Jose P | Updated on July 28, 2014 Published on July 28, 2014

It’s high time India regulated children’s television programmes

Children’s television adversely influencing its targeted consumers is hardly news. It’s a given. What’s surprising, however, is the lackadaisical way in which governments monitor (or don’t) such content, despite the protests from across the globe. India is a good (or bad?) example of this, catering only to adult sensibilities on such vital issues.

Most children’s serials on Indian television promote aggressive behaviour, junk food, gender insensitivity and hyper ambitions. Sample this: a little hero named after a mythical strongman swallows bowls of laddus to get that extra power to beat up baddies, while another super-lad, a modern version of a Hindu god, gobbles up scoops ice cream to power himself up before taking on demons.

Who clears these programmes for public (read children) viewing? Then again, there are few guidelines on the kind of advertisements channels can beam during kids’ shows. Yes, telecom watchdog Trai has some on advertising targeting children, but not much on damaging content. The I&B Ministry’s Programme and Advertising Codes prescribed under the Cable Television Network Rules, 1994 mandates that “Care should be taken to ensure that programmes meant for children do not contain any bad language or explicit scenes of violence.” But who decides what bad language is and how explicit a scene can be? In a popular mythology serial aired on a leading kids’ network, the little hero tears the abdomen of one demon, while swirling another to his death in a way that would give Quentin Tarantino a run for his money. Isn’t this depiction of violence explicit enough to warrant being taken off air?

You can complain to the Indian Broadcasting Foundation if you spot harmful content on the small screen, but what happens then? When was the last time we heard a channel was asked to take a show off air following such complaints?

Of course, parents can block these channels, but in this age of multiscreen and streaming this means nothing. It takes regulations. The I&B ministry should set up an independent authority to audit and regulate television programmes targeting children.

Let’s make sure our kids watch shows that enrich their lives, of course, with some mischief thrown in. But don’t let them become demon catchers who slit throats at will.

Assistant Editor

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Published on July 28, 2014
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