The BBC ban -Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

Paksitan Press Foundtion

The BBC ban

The tendency to ban sources of information appears to be growing in our country. In the recent past all kinds of websites have been banned, either on the basis of “morality” or on the basis of “national security”. We now appear to be taking this trend to a new level.

The All Pakistan Cable Operators Association has taken the BBC off air to prevent the airing of a documentary which deals with some aspects of the war on terror involving Pakistan. Sensitivity to the issue is high following the recent Nato aggression. This is perfectly understandable.

But there must be some question whether cable operators have the right to take such a decision. They have called on Pemra to revoke the landing rights for the BBC. Doing so would simply act to isolate Pakistan further.

The documentary in question was aired in the UK in October and November and posted on YouTube in early November. Its been viewed to date by 36,793 (part 1) and 25,353 (part 2) — so it can hardly be said to have ‘gone viral’. The BBC remains available to anybody with a satellite dish connection.

Given the limited number of people who might have viewed the programme, and there not being any reports of formal complaints either to Pemra or cable operators themselves, one is led to wonder where the ‘push’ for the ban came from.

Of course we have the right to disagree completely with what any channel is saying, and the documentary has already been criticised for its lack of even the basic elements of objective reporting. But at the same time people must have the right to decide what they watch and how they interpret events.

It is true channels like the BBC are at times responsible for propaganda. Misinformation is also spread through all kinds of other means. But the right of people to know and to gain access to different views must not be curbed. Blocking their access to what some others may be saying is a crude, unintelligent way to deal with the problem and can only be counterproductive in this age of an unprecedented flow of information.
Source: The News
Date:12/2/2011