Leitmotif

Reason as the Leading Motive

Indian TV Will Only Air Cartoons

Posted by Jerry on April 3, 2007

In the latest act of statist moralizing, the Indian communications ministry has decided to pull the plugs off Fashion TV (ftv) and CNBC Awaaz, this coming soon after the expiration on the ban of AXN. Apparently, the vanguards of the Indian moral fiber and free democracy believe it is their righteous duty to only air programming suited for little children and the retarded. To that end, India will now only air cartoons across all its channels.

Frankly, the policies of the Indian government are so disgusting that I’d happily watch no TV than witness the communication industry being shackled and forced into submitting to such coercive policies and arbitrary extortion of money through fines. Indeed, I wish that all private and foreign television networks would simply withdraw from the Indian market and starve the 1 billion or so Indians of their daily diet of television. Surely, this should be welcomed by the moral ministry as it would leave their moral fiber untarnished. However, the law and order situation following the wake of a billion bored and frustrated people will be another matter to be tackled as and when it arises. Certainly, the purity of mind and soul is a more pressing concern.

Even the critics of the ban are embarrasing in the kind of criticisms they level against the ministry. Some alleged media expert, Santosh Desai, is quoted in the Sunday Times (April 1, 2007) as saying that “while FTV going off the air is no real loss to mankind, on grounds of principle the move is disquieting.”

Notice how Desai is fully complacent about the fact that FTV is being pulled off the air–oh, it’s because it is “no real loss to mankind.” I suppose the producers, advertisers, stakeholders, viewers, and other participants of FTV do not constitute a part of “mankind,” because they are from… err… planet Fashion? Or, is it that they do not constitute a large enough group of people for their loss to be considered substantial enough? In other words, typical of utilitarianism and democracy, if the majority is not negatively affected by the “loss,” then there should be no qualms about it.

Also, notice Desai’s divorce of principle from practice: he objects to the government’s move on the grounds of principle, thus apparently conceding that in practice, the particular move is not harmful enough as yet. According to Desai, freedom of speech and expression are merely principles, and it would be merely nice to have them. However, in practice, we decide what’s good or bad by the immediate discomfort, harm, loss, or sensory deprivation that we experience. So long as we don’t feel the physical “pinch,” the talk of violating principles is merely “disquieting.”

The bottomline is that critics such as Desai are perfectly suited for the Indian government; their illogical, unprincipled, range-of-the-moment criticisms are perfect accompaniments for the government’s illogical, unprincipled, range-of-the-moment policies.

Yet, the perfuctory noises are made everytime a new policy appears, and then all parties settle down together for a meal. The whole thing gives me the mental image of a flock of pigeons on the sidewalk–they all flutter about noisily when you throw some seeds at them, and soon after, they settle down to pluck at those seeds.

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6 Responses to “Indian TV Will Only Air Cartoons”

  1. Sid said

    What is even more worrying is that they have banned CNBC’s Awaaz – a news program. Although purpotedly it is for showing liquor ads, I kinda doubt it. I wonder what will happen once the Broadcast Bill is passed in budget session (hopefully it won’t pass but I kinda doubt it).

  2. Ergo said

    Sid, if what you’re saying is true (about wanting to get the liquor ads off the air), then the government’s move also constitutes an open attack on free enterprise, capitalism, and the right of businesses to engage in legitimate business practices to maintain their survival. Thus, this new policy is an assault on very basic liberties.

    Indeed, the government should be sued in a court of law for violating fundamental human rights. That, of course, requires a court of law, and such a thing does not exist in India.

    I don’t know anything about the Broadcast Bill. But I do know this with certainty: absolutely nothing good will come out of it and surely much will be extorted at the point of the legislative gun.

  3. Sid said

    Considering that India had been on the verge of communism (metaphorically speaking) until the fall of the USSR, the assault on basic liberties is nothing new and it is not a new policy though the the specific concrete (liquor ads) might be new.

  4. Avadhut said

    Sid is right about CNBC Awaz being banned for airing liquor ads. Infact, since it is illegal to air liquor and tobacco ads on Indian national telivision, Liquor companies have resorted to adverstising the brand itself through music (Smirnoff, Bacardi), mineral water (Kingfisher), etc.

    And if I am right, the AXN ban was lifted not because it expired but AXN issued an apology to the Indian I & B Ministry:

    This was the official statement issued by the Ministry. WTF!

  5. Avadhut said

    Don’t know what happened up there.

    The statetment: The decision follows an apology by the AXN to the Minister of I&B for violation of programme code under the Cable Television Networks Regulation Act, 1995.

  6. Sid said

    That’s right. And combine that with the fact the govt is seeking to block “objectionable” communities at orkut.

    http://www.boingboing.net/2007/03/13/india_googles_orkut_.html
    http://www.indianexpress.com/story/25427.html

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