Objectionable content: LHC orders crackdown on cable operators
LAHORE: Lahore High Court (LHC) on Thursday directed the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) to clamp down on cable operators airing advertisements promoting pornography, black magic and quackery. LHC Chief Justice Designate Mansoor Ali Shah gave the directive in connection with a petition by Leader of the Opposition in the Provincial Assembly (PA) Mian Mehmoodur Rasheed. The counsel for the petitioner Advocate Sheraz Zaka told the court that the Information Ministry was in doldrums. He said it had failed to take notice of blatant violations of Pemra’s code of conduct. Zaka said cable operators regularly aired content featuring Indian porn stars. He said this was abominable. Zaka said this contravened the fundamental premise of an Islamic state.
The counsel said advertisements promoting quackery and black magic were also routinely aired by many cable operators. He said this was wreaking havoc on families and duping the people. Zaka requested the court to direct the Pemra to ensure the effective implementation of its code of conduct. In its reply, the Pemra told the court that it had received scores of complaints regarding the airing of advertisements featuring objectionable content. This, constituted a blatant violation of its code of conduct, the authority said. The Pemra said the airing of advertisements featuring pornography and promoting quackery and black magic was not permitted by its code of conduct for electronic media. The authority said all cable operators and multi-media distribution services had been directed on June 3 to adhere with the code of conduct and cease airing such content. The Pemra said it had warned them of strict action in case this did not happen. Judge Shah also directed the Pakistan Television (PTV) MD to file a reply on the addition of a surcharge in power bills. He gave the directive after being left unconvinced by the arguments of a government representative. Counsel Zaka said the levying of the PTV fee by the Information Ministry was illegal. He said billions of rupees collected in this regard were being used to finance government advertisements. A deputy attorney general said he needed further instructions on this account from pertinent authorities and sought more time to furnish a reply. Judge Shah told the PTV MD to file a reply and adjourned proceedings till June 29 after hearing what the deputy attorney general had to say.