PEMRA wants complete ban on Indian content

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Zubair Qureshi

Islamabad—At a time when most of the Indian TV channels are observing complete ban on Pakistani content, Pakistani TV channels should also voluntarily show zero Indian content on their channels. Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) Chairman Absar Alam on Tuesday said a request has been sent to the federal government for a complete ban on airing of Indian content. While addressing a press conference here at the PEMRA headquarters, PEMRA chief said unfortunately majority of those who give sermons on nationalism and ‘pro-Pakistan stance’ daily on their TV screen are found using such illegal Indian content. He called for an end to this ‘double standard’ and requested the ‘champions of patriotism’ to start from home. Besides calling me traitor, they should do some introspection, said Absar Alam.
The federal government had earlier suggested banning airing of Indian content in a tit-for-tat move after Pakistani content was completely banned by India. “A letter has been sent to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in this regard,” Absar Alam said, adding the federal government would decide on the matter within a week. The Pemra chairman insisted that as India has banned films starring Pakistani artists, “we should reciprocate in the same manner.” He also said a crackdown was initiated against illegal Indian Direct-to-Home (DTH) sets on Oct 15, adding that action is being taken against cable operators who do not comply with the instructions. The Pemra chairman said Pemra has received a complaint against three television channels that have been airing more than 6 per cent Indian content. As per the law, only 10pc of airtime is allowed for foreign content, while the maximum limit for Indian content is 6pc in 24 hours. “If the channels are found guilty they will be banned”, Absar Alam added. With regard to the Pakistani DTH licences, the Pemra chairman said that seven more companies have requested the licence, whereas nine companies have already been shortlisted. He added that 16 requests have been received for three DTH licences and the licences will be granted over the next few weeks. Alam added that the floor price for the DTHs has been kept at Rs200 million.
A company owned by PML-N leaders and Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif’s son Hamza Shahbaz has also been shortlisted for DTH licence, he said. Earlier in October, Pemra granted Absar Alam authority to revoke or suspend licences of companies airing Indian content without providing prior notice.
On Aug 31, Pemra had announced that strict action would be taken against the channels airing foreign content more than the prescribed limit and traders selling illegal DTH sets.