New Delhi: The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (I&B) Tuesday issued an advisory for private television channels to ensure that children are not portrayed in an inappropriate way on performance-based reality TV shows.
In the advisory, the ministry said it has noticed several dance-based reality TV shows with young children “performing dance moves originally done by adults in movies and other popular modes of entertainment”.
“These moves are often suggestive and age-inappropriate. Such acts may also have distressing impact on children, impacting them at a young and impressionable age,” the advisory said.
According to the Programme & Advertising Codes prescribed under the Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Act, 1995, no programme should be carried on TV which denigrates children, and programmes meant for children should not contain any bad language or explicit scenes of violence, the advisory noted.
“The channels have been further advised to exercise maximum restraint, sensitivity and caution while showing such reality shows and programmes,” the advisory stated.
Similar guidelines on inappropriate representation of children in reality shows have earlier been issued by the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights and the Broadcasting Content Complaints Council (BCCC), a self-regulatory body for the industry.
Some of the popular dance reality shows for children on private channels include Dance India Dance Little Masters (Zee TV) and Super Dancer (Sony TV), in which children aged between 4 and 13 participate.
There are several other reality shows for children where kids compete in singing, acting, mimicry and other talents.
‘Responsibility of channel’
Industry sources told ThePrint that there are several dance-based reality shows which present children performing “suggestive” moves over songs meant for adults.
“It is the responsibility of the channel not to air such performances. For example, in one of the shows, a child danced on the tunes of ‘Chikni Chameli‘. The channels should avoid that,” said a source who didn’t wish to be identified.
The BCCC used to receive multiple complaints over the issue earlier. However, the instances have certainly reduced now, said sources.
“But there are still such complaints occasionally,” added the source.
A second top industry source said that while as a parent everybody is against exploiting children in such shows, as a broadcaster the industry feels that the ministry should have asked BCCC to issue the advisory.
“The government should try to strengthen the existing self-regulatory mechanism and should have urged the BCCC to issue a strong advisory to channels, since the government and also the Supreme Court recognise self-regulation in the Indian broadcasting industry.”
Professor Manoj Kumar Sharma, clinical psychologist at SHUT, the technology de-addiction clinic at National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences (NIMHANS), Bengaluru, told ThePrint that many of these reality shows for children create an unhealthy competition among children which affects them by enhancing their need for approval from the society.
“Also, when a child is dancing to a certain song or playing a role, the child starts identifying himself or herself as the character portrayed,” he said, adding that it is in no way healthy for a child.
“In one of our studies, we found that a lot of young children are indulging in sexting, which is a result of what they have been exposed to such vulgarity in their childhood,” he said.
“If a child is exposed to such vulgarity in reality TV shows at a young age, it definitely has some adverse impact on their mental health as they grow up.”