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NEW DELHI: The shoot of the third season of Bigg Boss Malayalam has been suspended after the crew was found filming in Chennai, despite a government ban on film and television shootings. A report by The News Minute said six members from the crew had tested positive for covid last month.

Hosted by Mohanlal, the show, currently airing on Asianet, a general entertainment channel owned by Star India has contestants locked up together in a house. These include stand-up comedian and TV personality Noby Marcose, stylist Dimple Bhal, radio jockey Firoz Azeez, film and TV actor Manikuttan and powerlifting champion Majiziya Bhanu, among others.

Lockdowns in states like Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu have led to programming budgets of television producers and broadcasters of other Hindi general entertainment channels rise by 25% as they are having to schedule their shoots to locations in Gujarat, Daman and West Bengal. Channels are trying to sustain viewership and advertising by taking extreme precautions to finish shoots, bring fresh episodes on air and avoid re-runs like last year as they grapple with the responsibility of the health of their cast and crew. Shows such as Barrister Babu (Colors) and Kyun Utthe Dil Chhod Aaye (Sony TV) are currently being shot in Surendranagar and other parts of Gujarat.

Television advertising had declined 21.5% in 2020, with ad volumes falling 32% during the peak of the lockdown, according to a Ficci-EY report.

Media experts said many production houses have moved to shoot-friendly places to continue programming, though the strategy may not work for all shows and some time slots will have to see re-runs.

“It’s a very challenging time not just financially but also in terms of the fact that producers are staring at a huge moral responsibility in keeping their cast and crew safe at a time when they see entertainment content as a means to help the government in keeping viewers safe and engaged at home," J.D. Majethia of Hats Off Productions and chairman of the Indian Film and TV Producers Council said in an earlier interview to Mint.

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