Cable operators, channel owners shun Pemra meeting
By: Ahmad Hassan
ISLAMABAD: Participants of a consultative meeting called by Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority on Monday under the directive of the Supreme Court to discuss the terms ‘obscenity’ and ‘vulgarity’ in reference to what is shown on television remained divided on the definition of the terms, whereas representatives of television channel owners and cable operators stayed away from the meeting.
A three-judge Supreme Court bench headed by the chief justice, hearing applications filed by Jamaat-i-Islami’s Qazi Husain Ahmed and others against the so-called “obscene” content being aired on television channels, had asked Pemra to take all stakeholders on board in determining what amounts to ‘obscenity’ and ‘vulgarity’ that was being broadcast on television channels.
From among the participants, those from religious parties and a few others insisted on strictly following an Islamic code in presentation of entertainment and news programmes, whereas majority of participants termed it an attempt to block technological advancements and cultural dynamism, adding that the cultural ethos varied with the passage of time.
Some participants proposed the appointment of an ombudsman to keep a check, while others proposed to Pemra to lay down criteria through a consensus of all stakeholders which should be implemented in letter and spirit.
The cable operators and channel proprietors stayed away from the meeting, while Qazi Husain, journalist Ansar Abbassi, Karachi JI chief Mohammad Hussain Mehnati, Lt-Gen (retd) Abdul Qayyum, columnist Oriya Maqbool Jan, former minister Javed Jabbar, media expert Dr Mehdi Hasan and representatives of the FM Radio Association and Pakistan Advertisers’ Association participated.
Qazi Husain Ahmed and some other participants said Pakistan had been created in the name of Islam and its Constitution clearly envisaged that there could be nothing against the Quran, Sunnah and Shariah.
Javed Jabbar, Dr Mehdi Hassan and some electronic media representatives were of the view that the media was not all about vulgarity. They called for a more rational approach in dealing with the issue.