South Asia

India restricts 'adult content' day time reality shows

Pamela Anderson on the set of Big Boss
Image caption The government says that it is imposing decency, not censorship

The Indian government has banned reality television shows from showing "adult content" during the day time.

Officials say the decision follows complaints from the public about scenes in two reality programmes currently on air during prime time.

They say that shows such as Bigg Boss - India's version of Big Brother - can only be broadcast between 11pm and 5am.

The announcement coincided with the arrival of former Baywatch star Pamela Anderson into the Bigg Boss house.

Dressed in a white sari, Anderson said "Namaste" - hello in Hindi - to her housemates and shook hands with all the participants.

The BBC's Prachi Pinglay in Mumbai says that in the process of her eagerly awaited entrance she asked them questions about the routine in the house, the tasks they faced and whether people swam in the pool.

Complaints

When contacted by the BBC, producers of the reality TV programmes said they had yet to be officially notified of the government's ban.

The federal Information and Broadcasting Ministry said the restrictions come into effect immediately.

The BBC's Tinku Ray in Delhi says that the government has been flooded with complaints about scenes from Bigg Boss and another reality show, Rakhi Ka Insaaf or Rakhi's Justice.

Image caption Pamela Anderson has attracted huge publicity since her arrival in India

In one incident a female inmate of Bigg Boss, Veena Mallik - who became famous in a recent cricket spot-fixing scandal as the former girlfriend of Pakistani cricketer Mohammed Asif - dropped her towel.

Other complaints include intimate kissing scenes which are taboo in public in India and abusive language, while a police case has been filed against the Rakhi Ka Insaaf show following the suicide of a participant.

A ministry official, who did not want to be named, told the BBC that while there is no censorship, episodes will have to clearly state on screen that content in the programme is only for adults.

In a significant move, the ministry has also barred news channels from carrying excerpts from these programmes during the day.

Some local news channels have been broadcasting large parts of these very popular shows repeatedly throughout the day.

In its investigation into the shows, the ministry says the race for increased ratings on television is pushing producers to be more sensational and show content that is "not appropriate" for younger viewers.

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