The National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) has made new guidelines to protect child artistes in the entertainment sector. The draft states that no minor should work for more than 27 consecutive days in a year and over six hours in a day. The draft ‘Regulatory Guidelines for Child Participation in the Entertainment Industry’ covers films, OTT, TV, reality shows and other fields where child actors are involved.
“We have received a lot of complaints regarding portrayal of kids, but who will complain about the working hours of these kids? We need to address working hours and working conditions of showbiz minors. Hence, we need strict implementation of these guidelines, said Priyank Kanoongo, Chairperson, NCPCR.
It has also been said that children will require producers to obtain permission from the District Magistrate to ensure a safe environment on sets for child artistes.
It has also been found that there are parents who own the earnings of their children and instead of working in the best interest of children, they change kids’ routines to fit shooting schedules. At times, parents quit their jobs to manage their wards’ acting careers full time. NCPCR will also have meetings with heads of production houses of all major mediums and studio heads. These guidelines are out till July 31, 2022 for public feedback.
The main idea behind drafting these guidelines is that child actors are treated as kids, said Vani Tripathi Tikoo who was among the members who drafted these guidelines. Vani further says that working conditions on sets are often not children-friendly. “We need to take immediate steps about the conditions in which child actors are working on sets. The new rules in the draft guideline include things like having a tutor, child counsellor during shooting, limited work hours and regular breaks among other requirements.”
Vani added that children work till late hours and rarely get free time. “These guidelines have been drafted to catch up with the ever-increasing entertainment formats as we have more child artistes working in all the mediums. Besides, the guidelines are not just for guidance but we have included provision for punishment.”
The new guidelines also mention that child artistes should be provided private tutors if they skip school. In foreign countries, this is an established norm. For instance, during the shoot of Stranger Things – as the cast majorly comprised kids – tutors were available for them so they could take lessons.
Ashnoor Kaur’s (now 18) mother Avneet Kaur says, “It has been said that the working hours are eight hours, but due to telecast issues, they become 12 hours, so there should be a fix on the number of hours.” She further states that during her board exams it used to get very tough when they used to return home around 11pm. She said that she had to finish her chapters and then would sleep for four hours.”
Moumita Guha Neogi, mother of Ryan Guha Neogi, seven, who plays the titular character in a Bengali serial says that the guidelines will help the little ones even more. “When the serial starts, there is this pressure of banking where there are days when a child may have to work for nine hours instead of eight. But the production team ensures that the child gets enough breaks and the schedule is not strenuous for them. Once the banking is done, things fall into place automatically. A child shouldn’t feel stressed out at any point as he/she is acting out of love and passion for the profession. Most production houses take that seriously,” she said.
- Persons who may come in contact with children will have to submit a medical fitness certificate and certificate for not carrying obvious contagious disease before shooting with children and police verification of such staff shall be done.
- At least one parent or legal guardian or a known person shall be present at all times if the child is above the age of six years. No child should be allowed to travel without their parent.
- A child shall only participate in one shift per day, with a break after every three hours [Section 7 of Child and Adolescent Labour Act, 1986]. The period of work of a child shall be so arranged that inclusive of his interval for rest, it shall not be more than six hours, including the time spent in waiting for work on any day [Section 7 of Child and Adolescent Labour Act, 1986]. No child shall be made to work overtime or between 7pm and 8am. [Section 7 of Child and Adolescent Labour Act, 1986].
- The minimum number of working days or instructional hours in an academic year should be maintained as provided in the Schedule under the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009.
The participation of children in recorded/live entertainment programmes may be done preferably on holidays so that the child does not miss school.
Source: The Times of IndiaNational, News