Senate panel deplores showing of Indian content on Pak channels
Assails failure by Ministry of Information and Pemra
By Mumtaz Alvi
ISLAMABAD: The Senate’s Standing Committee on Information and Broadcasting on Monday took exception to inability of the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting and Pemra in blocking Indian content on Pakistani channels.
The committee decided to raise the issue on the floor of the Senate to press the government for banning Indian movies and dramas in Pakistan. It also took to task the cable operators for screening Indian films and plays.Some committee members during the proceedings here at the Parliament House alleged that Pemra, which was essentially a regulatory body, had confined itself to a money-making entity.
The committee assailed the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting and Pemra for overlooking the persistent airing of Indian movies and dramas on several Pakistani channels, which, it said, was harming the local culture and leaving a negative impact on the society.
Talking to The News after the meeting, PML-Q Senator Tariq Azeem, who is a member of the committee, lamented the panel had strongly recommended a ban on showing Indian content on the local channels at least twice, but the relevant quarters did not bother to implement its observations.
“The standing committees are like mini-parliaments and reflect the will of Parliament, if their recommendations are to be treated this way, is there any logic in holding such deliberations,” wondered the senator, who served as state minister for information and broadcasting during the PML-Q government.
He pointed out that no Pakistani programme was shown across India, but the local channels were telecasting the neighbouring country’s objectionable content without any check or restriction.
The committee was earlier informed that Pemra had so far issued as many as 1,500 licences to cable operators, who showed without any restriction Indian and English movies and plays, which were having a negative impact on the local audience.
Senator Tariq Azeem told the meeting, chaired by the JUI-F Senator Ghulam Ali, that there was no check on cable operators to run advertisements on their own, showing undesirable material.
Information Secretary Mansoor Suhail conceded that a letter was written to Pemra to stop this practice. However, no action has been taken on this count so far. Moreover, many private channels were violating the rules by exceeding the limit of ads during a programme.
The committee emphasised since over 80 per cent of the population watch the telecasts of the state-run TV, its broadcasts should reflect the national sentiments and aspirations in its productions.
Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting Qamar Zaman Kaira told the meeting that the committee under Justice (retd) Fakhruddin G Ebrahim was working on proposals for the media code of conduct.
He was hopeful that the committee would present its proposals within next few days and then the ministry would see how to implement the same. Mansoor Sohail said that a committee was in place to approve advertisements for airing on the state-run TV, keeping in view the content, while for private channels Pemra code of conduct was the criteria. He noted Pemra laws were there, but their implementation was the real issue.
Source: The News