Indian content on TV channels
In remarks bound to ruffle many a feather, the nation’s top judge has declared that the Supreme Court will not allow Indian content to be aired on Pakistani TV channels, citing its deleterious effects on our culture.
Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar’s comment on Wednesday possibly referred to the unabashed obscenity and vulgarity which the Indian media is known to proudly serve to its audience, often launching a ‘navel attack’ on the country’s neighbours, most notably Pakistan. How this content ruins the morals of Pakistani youth is the subject of endless debate. Pakistan’s media watchdog – the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) – had imposed a complete ban on running Indian content on local television and FM radio channels in 2016. But that decision was viewed by many as a retaliatory move by Islamabad, and not driven by morality concerns, after identical actions were taken by some channels and the entertainment industry in India against Pakistani content and artists. But the very next year, the Lahore High Court overturned that ban. This verdict was followed by a Supreme Court decision in October 2018, reinstating the ban on the broadcast of Indian content on local TV channels. Now the top court is seized with hearing an appeal filed by the PEMRA against the high court decision.
What particularly prompted the CJP’s remark was a discussion centered on a case of a local entertainment channel. The PEMRA chief told the court that 65 per cent of the content shown on the channel is foreign. The CJP interjected that “we will not allow Indian content to be aired on [Pakistani] channels.” When the media regulator’s attorney pointed out that it is not a news channel but one that airs entertainment programmes, and that it does not indulge in any propaganda, the top judge shot back that “it is, however, damaging our culture.” Some fireworks are expected as the case is fixed for further hearing in early February.