Indian Ministry Pushes Adult Reality Shows into Late Night

Local Versions of "Big Brother," "Judge Judy" Targeted

NEW DELHI -- India's Information and Broadcasting Ministry issued a directive Wednesday clamping down on two controversial reality shows, which were pushed to a late night “adult” time zone with immediate effect.

The two shows targeted under this directive are Bigg Boss, the Indian version of Big Brother, telecast on Viacom18's Colors Hindi channel, and Rakhi Ka Insaaf, a localized version of American court show Judge Judy, telecast on Turner-owned Hindi channel NDTV Imagine.

The directive states that these shows will only telecast between 11 p.m. and 5 a.m. instead of the earlier 9 p.m.- 10 p.m. prime time slots and the channels have also been instructed to run scrolls stating that the programs are unsuitable for children.

The directive came just as the ongoing fourth season of Bigg Boss was broadcasting Wednesday's episode, featuring the entry of surprise guest Pamela Anderson who will make a three-day appearance.

However, Colors filed an appeal in the Bombay High Court Thursday challenging the directive and obtained a stay order that means for the moment, Bigg Boss is being telecast at its usual 9 p.m. slot.

The directive came after a recommendation was made to the New Delhi-based I&B Ministry on November 15 following a meeting of an Inter Ministerial Committee that included representatives of the I&B Ministry and various child rights and women’s rights organizations.

The shows in question have been in the spotlight recently for airing controversial and sometimes racy content considered vulgar for primetime family viewing hours.

The directive also states that these shows cannot be telecast in any other time slot and that clips from these shows are also barred from news and other channels. In recent years, news channels have been telecasting clips from such reality shows to boost their viewership.

In addition, the ministry also issued a one-week ban from November 22-29 to regional multilingual music channel SS Music, for allegedly showing nudity.

Rakhi Ka Insaaf, hosted by Bollywood starlet Rakhi Sawant, ran into trouble recently following reports of a young man committing suicide after the participant was insulted on-air by Sawant.

Meanwhile, with these shows being pushed out of primetime, there could be a negative impact on their ratings, according to observers.

In recent years, the I&B Ministry has issued programming code violation warnings to at least 14 channels, including MTV India, NDTV Imagine and Colors, whose earlier seasons of Bigg Boss also generated controversy.