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ZEE5 suspends release of show after religious outrage

Screenshot of Zee5's homepage

ZEE5 has suspended the release of a Tamil show it was about to stream later this month after Hindu outrage over the subject matter. Retired IAS officer VS Chandralekha tweeted that BJP leader Subramanian Swamy urged Subhash Chandra, who heads Essel, the company that owns the subsidiary ZEE5 operates under, to cancel the show’s release. The show, Godman, is about a small time thief who becomes an influential spiritual leader. On June 1, a Tamil BJP leader reportedly filed a complaint against the series, accusing it of “degrading” Brahmins.

“We have decided to suspend the release of the show at the moment,” ZEE5 said in a statement. The company said it made the decision after “feedback” from users, but did not specify what the feedback was, or from whom it came. In response to our queries, the company did not say whether it would release the show later.

This suspension comes as increasingly provocative shows like Paatal Lok outrage conservative viewers, usually sensitive about content that is critical of the government or of Hinduism. A few days ago, right wing groups trended #CensorWebSeries on Twitter, demanding government intervention in content showed by streaming services.

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In its statement, ZEE5 points out that it was one of the first companies to sign on to the voluntary Code for Self-Regulation of Online Curated Content Players. ZEE5 has, however, been opposed to the creation of a Digital Content Complaints Committee to arbitrate appeals of content complaints. The code and the DCCC are the brainchild of the Internet and Mobile Association of India’s Digital Entertainment Committee, whose current chairman is Tarun Katyal, the CEO of ZEE5. The committee is currently deliberating what a commonly acceptable solution to self-regulation would be.

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I cover the digital content ecosystem and telecom for MediaNama.

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