Pemra defends ban on foreign channel
KARACHI, March 22 2006: Director General Enforcement of Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) Rana Altaf Majid defended banning of a foreign TV channel in Pakistan for allegedly siphoning off Rs1 billion revenue from the Pakistan-based electronic media.
Delivering a lecture on ‘Challenges and Opportunities for the Electronic Media of Pakistan’ at SZABIST on Tuesday March 21, Majid said that the banned Star Plus, without coming under the purview of Pakistani laws, has been swallowing a lion’s share of revenue from Pakistan.
Majid cited cultural invasion as the second reason to disband the channel despite the government’s eagerness to allow more TV channels to operate in Pakistan.
He conceded that the local channels could not compete with the standard of the Star Plus for lacking international standard software in Pakistan.
Quoting from a survey, the PEMRA director alluded to certain behavioural changes in youth after watching Hindi plays. He justified protecting local culture the way Malaysia did. “Hindu culture is a dominating one. It overwhelmed every other culture brought in by the invaders but only Islamic culture survived.”
Replying to queries, the PEMRA director said that for TV channels, revenue to the tune of Rs4.6 billion is up for grabs in Pakistan.
He said PTV alone enjoys a revenue share of Rs2.2 billion from the total revenue. He alleged that the Star Plus has been siphoning off Rs1 billion without coming under local laws.
According to director enforcement of PEMRA, the state-run PTV charges Rs1,78,000 per minute to the advertisers whereas private channels collect Rs50,000. Referring to such a disparity in profit, he justified allowing more than the internationally accepted 10 minutes advertisements per every 60 minutes of entertainment to private channels.
Altaf Majid acknowledged that the Indian channels by virtue of their cultural and linguistic background are closer to Pakistani viewers but hastened to add that the culture portrayed by these channels represents neither side of the divide. “Banning Star is not the answer but we need to cut the system to suit our environment.”
“We appear more liberal than the western liberals, who have a line drawn to everything, including freedom,” he added. “They follow viewers’ discretion while we lack any guide to watch.”
“Electronic media has the power to mould the public opinion in the country,” he said, adding that a race has started amongst certain channels to earn money. “Our drama used to be powerful to hook the viewers but now neither viewers nor the drama producers are of that genre of yesteryears to win viewership.”
According to the PEMRA director, Pakistan can’t defeat the international media revolution by just shying away; rather we need to tailor it to our needs. He expressed government’s willingness to allow more media outlets to run TV channels, saying 23 foreign channels have already applied for landing rights in Pakistan.
Source: The News