India bans TV channel AXN for ‘indecent content’
Thursday, January 18th, 2007

India has banned Sony’s satellite channel AXN for two months for showing “indecent content,” the Information and Broadcasting Ministry said today. It was the first time India has banned a mainstream channel. ”It has been decided to prohibit transmission or re-transmission of the channel up to March 15, with immediate effect,” Information Minister P R Dasmunsi told reporters yesterday after a cabinet meeting in New Delhi.

AXN, run by Sony Entertainment Company and uplinked from Hong Kong, has been banned for airing the programme “World’s Sexiest Advertisements,” Dasmunsi said. The programme is “against good taste or decency and is likely to adversely affect public morality,” he said. The minister said the ban on AXN was being implemented under the provisions of 1995 regulations and would be applied across all content delivery platforms - cable, direct to home and conditional access systems.

Sony Entertainment Television India CEO Kunal Dasgupta called the ban “unfair”. ”When the order is served on us we will comply and take the channel off the air,” he told the Hindustan Times. But Sony had already removed the “objectionable content” and not been given a hearing, Dasgupta noted.

India has, in the past, banned or placed restrictions on the broadcast of sexually explicit content that the government says will corrupt traditional Indian values, but it has not previously banned a whole channel. However, newspapers noted that AXN aired the show only after 11:00 pm in line with a proposed new broadcasting bill.

The Times of India described the content as “creative ads with sexual imagery and overtones although rarely exposing too much skin.” India’s previous Hindu nationalist government had threatened to ban the French satellite channel Fashion TV but later worked out an understanding with the broadcasters.

(Source: AFP)