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Govt ready for debate on content of reality shows: Soni
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Information & Broadcasting Minister Ambika Soni said today that the government is ready for a structured debate on the content of reality shows on television, particularly in the context of the ongoing controversy relating to Sach Ka Saamna.

Speaking to the media after a meeting with the broadcasters on the Content Code, she said her ministerial colleague Prithviraj Chavan had made it clear in Parliament yesterday that the government had no objection to any debate on the subject if a proper notice was given and the Chair permitted it.

Meanwhile, Ministry sources told Indiantelevision.com that Star Plus had not yet given any formal reply to the notice issued yesterday evening, which is being studied by the channel and its legal experts. The Ministry has asked the channel to respond by 4 pm on 27 July.

The copy of the notice made available today said it had been brought to the notice of the Ministry that the contents of the episodes of 17 and 21 July and earlier "are vulgar, indecent and against good taste and decency."

It further says that "the anchor of the programme seeks replies to questions regarding infidelity, incest, and other taboo subjects that are not suitable for unrestricted public exhibition, especially keeping in view the Indian ethos and culture."

These questions and their replies are followed by a polygraph test, the results of which are at times contrary to the replies given resulting in great embarrassment not only to the participants and their families but also to the viewers watching the programming along with their families. These, therefore, appear offending against good taste and decency; apparently contain obscene words; appear to malign and slander segments of social, public and moral life of the country and are not suitable of unrestricted public exhibition," the notice said.

Thus, the notice says this violates Section 5 of the Cable TV Networks (Regulation) Act 1995 read with Rules 6 (1) (a) (d) (i) and (o) of the Cable TV Rules 1994.

The notice under Section 20 of the Act – while asking why action under the downlinking guidelines should not be taken - also says "if no reply is received within this period (4 pm on 27 July), it will be presumed that Star Plus has nothing to say in the matter and further action for the violation will be taken ex parte."

A Star TV spokesperson clarified that their CEO Uday Shankar had met the Minister along with other broadcasters, and not in connection with the controversy relating to Sach Ka Saamna’.

The notice late yesterday evening followed the furore in the Rajya Sabha, the Upper House of Parliament.

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