Pamela Anderson Sparks Censorship Debate in India

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None other than Pamela Anderson is at the center of a controversy in India over whether viewers there should be allowed to see her dance in a reportedly tiny sarong as part of her appearance on Indian reality TV show, "Bigg Boss Season 4." India's broadcasting ministry has announced it will allow Anderson's dance to air, but that the show -- as well as another provocative show, Rakhi’s Justice -- must be moved from prime-time to late-night.

The controversy highlights India's long-running struggle to balance traditional, conservative social values against the Western-style free speech that has arrived as part of India's growing emphasis on democracy and free markets. The Wall Street Journal's Diksha Sahni explains the larger issues:

The move comes amid loud criticism of reality shows in general with two others, “Axe ur Ex” and “Emotional Atyachaar” (Emotional Torture) also drawing fire for being too voyeuristic though they weren’t part of the government’s new order.

The two-page order issued by Supriya Sahu, director of the broadcasting ministry, also asks channels to run a viewer advisory when the two programs air.

... “Big Boss” is on the radar for the contestants’ use of abusive language, violent outbursts and intimacy—this, in a country where until recently movie-goers were shielded from on-screen kissing by judiciously placed flowers and umbrellas. Colors TV, which airs the show, did not respond to requests for comment about the goings-on at the “Big Boss” house.

... Whatever officials might feel, audiences do love the drama and reality shows have mushroomed over the years—and are the top-rated shows on Indian TV.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.