KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 10 — Two local broadcasters were recently instructed by the Film Censorship Board (LPF) to stop displaying male and female innerwear in their respective home shopping segments.
In the letters to the broadcasters sighted by Malay Mail, LPF claimed that displaying the garments — even when a model was never involved — is allegedly indecent and offensive, and therefore goes against its guidelines and code of conduct.
“The Ministry is of the view that although the advertisement do not show undergarments worn live by a model and do not involve any indecent visual displays, advertising ‘undergarments’ will still offend the community, especially those related to race, religion, gender, and age.
“Furthermore, the requirement to preserve manners, decency, and the sensitivities of a multi-ethnic and multi-religious society in Malaysia is of utmost importance,” said LPF, which falls under the Ministry of Home Affairs, in a notice to one of the broadcasters dated September 3.
“Therefore, this Ministry is of the view that the aforementioned content advertising innerwear is inappropriate to be shown for general viewing... and all broadcasts similar like this should be discontinued immediately,” it added.
Despite LPF’s assertion, checks by Malay Mail showed that the male and female undergarments displayed in the home shopping shows were merely put on racks, or mannequins, rather than on any live model.
The items on sale on both platforms included men’s briefs, plain women’s panties and bras, and body shapers.
In a separate letter to another broadcaster dated August 24, LPF said it stands by its decision despite an appeal filed earlier by said company and views given by content regulators Communications and Multimedia Content Forum (CMCF) and Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC).
“Taking into account the interests of all parties in considering this appeal, LPF still sticks by the Film Censorship Guidelines 2010 (GPPF 2010) Article 1 of Section III (regarding) film advertisements, which states that film advertisements or any form of the message presented which promotes a branded organisation, product, or service must be ethical,” it said.
It gave the same rationale behind its decision to issue the same directive to the first broadcaster, that such a display is offensive and it is important to take care of the sensitivities of a multi-religious and multi-cultural audience.
The September 3 letter was signed by LPF secretary Yusniza Yusuf, while the August 24 letter was signed by LPF chairman Datuk Azizan Ariffin.
The second letter suggested that issue was previously broached by LPF on November 2020.
The LPF in a written response to Malay Mail confirmed issuing the notices to both broadcasters.
When asked to explain its claim on the inappropriateness of such content, LPF explained that all filmed shows or publicity content intended for broadcast and made available for public viewing must first obtain its approval.
It reiterated the need for aired content to maintain good manners and decency while balancing the sensitivities of a diverse society.
Citing regulations within GPPF 2010 under the Film Censorship Act 2002, LPF said its directive to both companies was based on the discharging their responsibility to ensure any form of film, broadcasted message or promotion has to remain ethical and within the set regulations.
“Besides that, seeing as how such shows are broadcasted through television as the medium which can be watched live by the entire household including children, content such as this must also pass specific guidelines for locally produced films meant for TV stations, which is applicable under the LPF.
“[This is] because considerations on sensitive aspects are emphasised to fulfill the need in preserving basic manners, decency, and sensitivities for the multiracial and multi-religious society in Malaysia,” LPF said.
The LPF explained how Article 1, Section III in GPPF 2010 states that broadcasts must take into consideration any possible sensitive topics that could influence impressionable viewers.
This includes how broadcasters must ensure their shows refrain from offending segments of the community especially on topics that touch on race, religion, gender, or age groups, and must not contain audio or visual representations that go against general decency.
LPF said that even though both companies have obtained approval from the home minister to conduct self-censorship, it stressed that this has to be conducted according to rules within GPPF 2010.
“Both television stations involved are aware of all the conditions that have to be adhered to under the Film Censorship Act 2002 Exemption Order issued by the Home Ministry,” it said.
LPF then confirmed that both broadcasters have complied with their directives and have removed the affected segments.
“But, if this content is shown on other online platforms, it is no longer subjected to the Film Censorship Act 2002,” LPF added.
Malay Mail has reached out to both companies for comments and are awaiting their responses.
Weighing in on the issue, CMCF executive director Mediha Mahmood said there is no explicit provision prohibiting the sale of items like innerwear.
She explained how the Communications and Multimedia Content Code only states that advertisements must not contain material that is offensive to the standards of decency prevailing among those who are likely to be exposed to them.
“Anything that is legal to be sold and is not subject to any restrictions prohibiting its advertisement may be advertised, as long as the content is not indecent or obscene,” Mediha told Malay Mail in an email interview.
“Given the fact that the content industry has grown so much in the past few years and with the growth of e-commerce too, we see many platforms carrying advertisements in many creative ways. In the spirit of self-regulation, I believe such items should be able to be advertised as long as it is done within the parameters mentioned,” she added.
Malay Mail also understands that despite LPF’s claim of the displays being potentially “offensive” to viewers, no complaint has ever been lodged to the CMCF over the displays.