Comedy Central India Back on Air Following Supreme Court Order

Comedy Central

The court stayed an earlier six-day ban issued by a lower court against the channel for airing content considered offensive

The laughs are back.

Comedy Central India resumed transmission on Friday following a Supreme Court order. The judgment stayed the six-day ban — and a $333 (20,000 rupees) fine — that began on Wednesday following an order by the Delhi High Court against the channel for airing content considered offensive. That judgment upheld a 10-day ban first issued last year by India's Information and Broadcasting Ministry.

Comedy Central India is run by Viacom18 Media, an equal-joint venture between Viacom Inc. and leading Indian broadcasting group Network 18.

"The Honorable Supreme Court stayed the Delhi High Court order on the suspension of the channel, Comedy Central," Viacom18 said in a statement. "We are happy to announce that the channel will resume broadcast on Friday evening."

Last year's suspension was issued after India's Information and Broadcasting Ministry objected to an episode of Stand Up Club and PopCorn TV (which aired in May and July 2012). The ministry stated that these episodes had "obscene dialogues and vulgar words derogatory of women, and hence appeared to offend good taste and decency. The portrayal in the program did not appear suitable for unrestricted public exhibition and children."

Viacom18 appealed the ban, and the channel was back on air after four days while the matter went to court. The Delhi High Court judgment instructed that the rest of the ban be fulfilled, leading to the six-day ban along with a fine of $333 (20,000 rupees).

However, the case isn't over yet. The Supreme Court judgment also issued a notice to the government, challenging the provisions of the law that allow the I&B Ministry to take action against TV channels. What this means is that the case will now most likely focus on how the government should tackle issues of objectionable content against broadcasters. The case will come up for hearing again on Dec. 8.