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  • TV channels advised restraint in depiction of animals in programmes

    Submitted by ITV Production on Jul 20
    indiantelevision.com Team

    NEW DELHI: Advising television channels not to show any content that is harmful to any animal or species, the Broadcast Content Complaints Council has said that animals must not continue to be exploited for human entertainment "especially when we live in an enlightened age that recognises the value of all species in a universal ecosystem".

    In an advisory to TV channels, the self-regulatory body said that "responsible television content" can and must go a long way in depicting animals and the environment in a manner that is "healthy for the planet". Depiction of animals that is resorted to may be such as does not denigrate or detract from the ideal of co-existence, and respect for all forms of life, it added.

    BCCC also suggested that the code of conduct for advertising agencies and film production prescribed by the Animal Welfare Board of India pertaining to the use of performing animals should be made applicable to broadcast media. These rules govern the manner in which performing animals should be treated during training, during the actual shoot, and during retirement. These rules also require special permissions to be obtained, and or furnished as evidence, before using animals, and apply to imported content and foreign locations as well.

    Issued by BCCC which is a self-regulatory body of non-news channels, after its 15th Meeting held on 13 July, the advisory said "many of the general interest entertainment channels", in particular those "airing reality shows", are exhibiting content that is extremely harmful to animals. Not only are animals hurt and killed before, during and post filming, in many cases animals, especially reptilian and wild mammalian, are depicted as cruel and fearful, when in fact they are placed in unnatural environments, and their natural behaviour is repressed. "Wrong impressions" are, thus, created and "unfortunate myths" spread.

    ?For instance, live insects are eaten to show courage in a manner that is distasteful and not conducive to health. A few channels have a reality show in which animals are killed week after week and animal parts such as sheep eyeballs and worms eaten in order to show bravery. What is also disturbing is that some channels rope in popular movie stars in serials in which animals are depicted, and project their being stalked; teased; tails being pulled at; food being pulled away, etc., i.e. veritable torture of animals as an ?act of bravery?.?

    At the outset, BCCC said there is a growing availability of television content featuring animals, domestic and wild. Besides full channels devoted to animal-related programming, there are also several lifestyle channels that feature pet programmes. Most of the content on these channels is designed to educate the viewer about habitats, extinction threat, humane training and treatment. Such programming merits active encouragement to make people understand the benefits of preserving the environment, species and so on.

    It advised TV channels not to produce, support the production of, purchase and broadcast content that is in any way harmful to the health and well being, as well as the depiction, of any animal or species.

    BCCC also said such content, is not suitable for public viewing because it is at variance with IBF?s Content Code & Certification Rules, 2011, which specifically stipulates that ?the subject-matter treatment of any programme under all categories shall not in any manner glamorise, promote, encourage such activities and sports, which encourage ecological imbalance and hurt animals.?

    Unrestricted depiction of wild animals in serials may also encourage the possession of wildlife as trophies, as the Code specifically stipulates that ?While the overall theme, storyline and characterisation may justify one or more specific scenes of crime or violence, the subject-matter treatment of such content under all categories shall not encourage the possession of wildlife as trophies.?

    Depiction of cruelty to animals has been defined as one in which ?a living animal is intentionally harmed, maimed, mutilated, tortured, wounded or killed or any other such conduct that is illegal under the animal-protection laws?; and depiction of animal ?suffering?, which is defined as ?physical or mental pain or distress or trauma caused to a human being or an animal by mistreatment?, may promote the willful infraction of animal protection laws, and the breach of the fundamental duty cast upon every citizen of India by Article 51 A (g) of the Constitution of India, to show compassion for living creatures.

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