Guidelines for the FCC?

Mumbai TVs blank as cable firms strike over nudity

MUMBAI (Reuters) – Cable television distribution firms in India’s entertainment capital of Mumbai have suspended services following a row with police over erotic content on TV channels, industry officials and police said on Tuesday.

Cable covers almost three million homes in the teeming city, of the 3.3 million with a television set.

The firms struck late on Monday complaining that they were being harassed by policemen trying to enforce a court order banning sexually provocative programmes on TV.

The police action came after the Bombay High Court rapped them last week for not complying with its order delivered last year asking them to prevent such content on television.

Police raided the offices of nine cable distributors on Monday and seized transmission equipment and decoders on charges that they had violated the court order…

Last year’s court order came in response to a petition by a Mumbai resident which said erotic content on TV was corrupting society and polluting young minds.

Adult entertainment and pornography are illegal in India and are not shown on cable TV. But hardcore magazines and videos are easily available in underground markets in most cities.

Last year’s court petition targeted semi-nudity and steamy scenes in mainstream Hollywood cinema, titillating music videos and fashion programmes shown by cable channels.

“There was a court order against adult programmes on TV. We are enforcing the order,” said a Mumbai police officer.

Let’s hope that American regulators don’t take a page from the Indian authorities as they approach the issue of cable TV programming for adults! As this article from Khaleej Times out of Dubai makes clear, the themes of censorship are certainly similar.

It’s amusing, in a way… “Bollywood” films (centered in Mumbai, the former Bombay) can be really raunchy, just without the nudity. The “wet sari” numbers, seemingly required in all blockbuster (or is that “bust buster”) films coming out of Mumbai leave very little to the imagination. But maybe that little bit is just enough…

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John Burgess
About John Burgess
John Burgess retired after 25 years as a US Foreign Service Officer, serving predominantly in the Middle East. He contributed 35 pieces to OTB between February 2006 and April 2014. He was the proprietor of the influential Crossroads Arabia until his death in February 2016.


  1. Well if we had activist judges about imposing nudity taboos, I would be worried also. Note that the government crack down is coming from a judicial ruling and not from legislation.

  2. DC Loser says:

    I find this pretty funny as I’m sure many here supported the FCC’s indecency fines for Howard Stern and other DJs. I’m pretty much straight across the board against censorship. If you don’t like the show, turn it off or change the station. If you’re worried about your kids watching the stuff, turn it all off.

  3. DC Loser,

    I think part of the point of the post was who should have the power to “turn it off” if you don’t like it. I agree that the power should primarily reside in the hands of the TV owner, though obviously at least one judge thinks such power best resides in their hand.

  4. John Burgess says:

    Well, generally speaking, judges only get to pass judgment on laws written by legislatures…

    Executive agencies can pass regulations, of course, that have somewhat of the force of law, but they are also ultimately linked to an electoral process.

    The tension between democracy and mob rule is always an interesting one.

  5. Mark says:

    This discussion if far too civilized. How about this:

    “this is the kind of thing the US has to look forward to if the nanny-state Republicans retain power” 😉

  6. John Burgess,
    You are describing how it is supposed to work between the legislature and judges, not how it always works. See Roe V Wade as an example.