Government hasn’t asked Pemra to ban Indian channels
The government has not yet officially issued any directives to Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) to ban Indian channels, films, plays and other contents on the Pakistani channels in the wake of escalation of tension between the two countries, PEMRA sources said on Saturday.
However, the sources added that the decision to ban illegal Indian channels and contents aired by different private TV channels and cable operators was taken by PEMRA prior to the recent escalation a month back. To a question as to why no directive was issued by the government to ban Indian channels, plays and other contents, a senior official of the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting said that any such decision could be taken on a reciprocal basis in response to Indian government’s official move.
“Since the Indian government has not yet officially taken any such step restricting cultural exchanges, therefore, we also did not take any such step,” the official said, adding the decision was not at the Indian government level. Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS), an Indian extremist party recently asked all film industry workers of Pakistani origin to leave India, as well as their films to be banned. It was followed by the Indian Motion Picture Producers’ Association (IMPPA) banning Pakistani actors, singers and technicians from working in Indian films.
But several Indian actors and film personalities including film director Karan Johar, film-star Salman Khan, senior producer and director Mahesh Bhatt opposed this move. Rahul Aggarwal resigned from the IMPPA in protest against the Association’s decision.
“I believe that art is above all and has no boundaries. Divide people and rule the nation, that’s what terrorists want”, Aggarwal was quoted by the Indian media as saying after he quit IMPPA as a member.
Pakistani cinema owners also announced that they would not screen Indian movies in theatres until normalization of the situation on the border, according to Nadeem Mandviwalla, owner of several cinemas in Karachi and Islamabad. Pemra has decided to launch a crackdown against illegal Indian satellite dishes and illegal Indian content on Satellite television channels, and cable networks from October 15, 2016.
Pemra last month gave 45 days to re-evaluate cable operators programming mix and make sure that SOPs are strictly followed by October 15th, 2016. Pakistani TV channels are strictly directed to limit any foreign and Indian content on their channels to under 10 percent and 90 percent of aired content must be produced / created within Pakistan, said a circular issued by Pemra.
According to the circular, Pakistani channels are asked to remain within the allowed limit of 10 percent for foreign content that will include: 6 percent content can be Indian and 4 percent content can be of any other origin. PEMRA said that this allowed time for foreign content to include any repeat broadcasts.
Under Section 33-A of the PEMRA Ordinance, the country’s electronic media watchdog has also called on the federal as well as provincial governments, FIA, FBR, SBP and other stakeholders in the country to stop Indian Direct to Home (DTH) services. PEMRA said that with the help of all sorts of state agencies it is finally going to get rid of Indian DTH services in Pakistan.
Meanwhile, a delegation of Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra) led by its Chairman Absar Alam met Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif in Lahore. The Chairman Pemra gave a briefing to the Chief Minister regarding a crackdown on Indian channels through illegal DTH.
He said the crackdown on Indian channels will begin from October 15. The Chief Minister said that the crackdown by Pemra against Indian channels through illegal DTH is a welcome step and the Punjab government will extend all-out cooperation to Pemra in this regard.