Pemra faces technological constraints
ISLAMABAD: As the associations of the Pakistan Cable Operators and the Pakistan Broadcasters moved the Supreme Court to become party in an ongoing case against obscenity and vulgarity in the electronic media, the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra) told the court that technological constraints restrained it from monitoring cable operators.
“Television channels (Indian channels) operate through satellite and can be downloaded from anywhere through a dish and a receiver,” a report submitted by Acting Chairman of Pemra Abdul Jabbar said, adding that 95 per cent of the cable operators in Pakistan were operating on analogue technology which posed a technological constraint that making it impossible for the authority to monitor cable operators.
A three-judge bench comprising Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, Justice Nasirul Mulk and Justice Jawwad S. Khawaja however declared that the report was an eye wash. The bench had taken up a petition of former Jamaat-e-Islamic Amir Qazi Hussain Ahmed and a letter by Justice (retd) Wajihuddin Ahmed to the chief justice on open display of obscenity and nudity on television channels.
In its report Pemra said it was discharging its duties to the best of its abilities and resources but monitoring the broadcast content as well as enforcement of relevant laws was a continuous process that posed greatest challenge.
In less than one year 97 illegal TV channels were taken off air in different areas of the country.
A meeting was also held with the Pakistan Broadcasters Association (PBA) and the Cable Operators Association of Pakistan (COAP) on August 9, 2012, to sensitise them and to ensure that corrective steps were taken by the stakeholders on their own.
The COAP and PBA in their applications stated to be treated as parties because they wanted to assist the court to reach a just and proper solution to the instant controversy.
They stated that they would also suggest the method and mode for adequate and effective control of obscene and objectionable material carried in the media while remaining within the framework of the laws. Besides it was also necessary to become party to protect the legal rights and interests of the members of the cable operators in the interest of justice, equity and fairness, the COAP application said.
In its order the court directed the acting chairman of Pemra to take input of all the stakeholders by having their viewpoints and relevant rules.
The court postponed further proceedings for Sept 17.