The Broadcast Content Complaints Council (BCCC), an independent self-regulatory body set up by the Indian Broadcasting Foundation (IBF) to examine content-related complaints from television viewers, has released its second report since 2012.
The biggest revelation of the report was that complaints against obscenity and nudity have fallen and a large number of complaints from the category, were forwarded by the Information and Broadcasting Ministry itself.
According to reports, out of the 4,545 complaints filed with the regulatory body, 28% of the complaints were related to stereotyping of women, ill-treatment of animals, child marriage and other such complaints.
However, 'religion and community' stood second in the number of complaints, where viewers had taken exception to the way mythological figures were represented on TV.
The BCCC receives complaints against entertainment channels on seven categories - crime and violence - sex, obscenity and nudity - horror and occult - drugs, smoking and tobacco, solvents and alcohol - religion and community- harm and offence and general restrictions.
A report in The New Indian Express adds that "Grouses pertaining to obscenity have declined from 47 per cent of the total complaints in 2012 to merely 8 per cent – much fewer than plaints under the crime and violence section, which is nearly 11 per cent of the total complaints recorded."
Though there were still complaints like "The dance performance of two girls was vulgar as it was exposing their bodies. Such acts spoil Indian culture," the BCCI were quick to review and dispose such complaints.
How does the BCCC work?
The BCCC addresses complaints from 350 entertainment channels and is estimated to receive around 20-25 complaints a day.
"The body is an alternative to interference from the government," Chairperson Mukul Mudgal, the former Chief Justice of the Punjab and Haryana High Court told The Hindu.
The body is completely self regulatory, and after examining the contents of a complaint, the broadcaster is given a chance to explain itself during the council members' monthly meet.
The penalties can go up to Rs. 30 lakh and a public apology scrolled through the program. However, the maximum fine levied so far has been Rs.7.5 lakh.
The channels can also be asked to change the time slot, content or drop certain programmes altogether.
The BCCC also found that the most number of complaints came from viewers of Tamil channels, mostly on the portrayal of women, followed Telugu and Kannada channels.
Some of the Tamil Channels that had complaints against the, include Star Vijay, Zee Tamil and Sun TV while Telugu channels like ETV and Zee Telugu were also questioned.
The data indicates that self-regulation seems to have worked as the steep drop in complaints related to obscenity, has come after entertainment channels moderated their content, based on previous complaints.
"The alternative to self regulation is censorship," Mudgal told the Times of India.
When the newspaper asked if the lesser number of complaints related to obscenity, reflected a greater level of maturity, the BCCC said that no such study had been done.