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Kids on TV? No child’s play

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Posted: 15 July 2009 at 11:46am | IP Logged

Kids on TV? No child's play

IANS 13 July 2009, 12:00am IST
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The National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) has framed guidelines for TV shows involving children, after the Maharashtra
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government recently sent notices to several production houses over the conditions in which kids worked in their shows.

The new rules include things like having a child counsellor during shooting, especially in reality shows, limited work hours and no deep make-up. The head of the committee, Sandhya Bajaj, says they will submit the guidelines to the women and child development ministry soon.

Meanwhile, I&B minister Ambika Soni said that she didn't see why there should be a problem with kids on TV as long as their parents were okay with it and their studies were not affected.

Dos and dont's now for child artistes

Even as Ambika Soni asks where's the problem, the NCPCR comes up with a set of guidelines for child artistes

A child crying inconsolably after being ousted from a reality TV show, his parents watching in dejection and the audience clapping in sympathy may push up TRP ratings. But it may also cause immense trauma to the child.
Now, the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) has come up with a list of dos and don'ts for TV shows involving children. These call for a counsellor on the sets of the show, limited work hours and no make-up for the kids.

"We'll soon submit the proposed guidelines to the women and child development ministry," said Sandhya Bajaj, who headed the committee on children's participation in TV serials and reality shows. "We've framed them after meeting child artistes and their parents, producers and directors and visiting studios," she adds.
The main objective behind framing the guidelines was that the children are treated with care and respect and are protected against any abuse. "There should be provision for a child counsellor during shooting, especially in reality shows, since the child may be dejected when he or she loses. A child can feel traumatised by a
single loss and this can have a lifelong impact," said Bajaj, addling, "Make-up should be either avoided or it should be minimum."

The NCPCR received many complaints about TV serials like Boogie Woogie, Chak De Bache and Little Champs last June. Most of the complaints stated that these shows show young ones dancing and singing. But what made the commission sit up and take notice is an incident in June last year when a participant in a Bengali music reality show suffered a breakdown and had to be hospitalised after she was severely rebuked by the judges.

The NCPCR then formed a committee of 12 that included teachers and directors. "The remarks by the judges on a reality show or talent hunt should not be demoralising or rude. A child's sensitivity must be borne in mind while evaluating a performance," the guidelines propose. "We must ensure that children and young people are not caused unnecessary anxiety or distress by their involvement in programmes or by their broadcast, and support should be given to them," it added.

Bajaj, who visited many studios in Mumbai and interacted with child artistes like Avika Gor who plays the young bride Anandi and Avinash Mukherjee who plays her husband Jagdish in the famous serial Balika Vadhu, said children work till late hours and don't get time for recreation and studies. "It's pertinent to regulate the working hours of children. Many shows involve extensive hours of shooting which can carry on for 12 hours or more. This can be exhausting for the child."

"We have proposed there should be a regulation on the number of hours a child can shoot in a day. The number of hours can be depending upon the age group of the child but should be between three to eight hours," she said. The other recommendations include amenities extended to the children inside and outside the studio, no junk food, recreational facilities and the presence of a parent or guardian during shoots.

"The child should feel safe. At the moment, they are enjoying the star status. But if they are harmed in any way now, their future could be problematic," Bajaj said.

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