PEMRA! You people still allow airing the Indian content?

June 10, 2020

 By Asif Mehmood

While watching my TV set on EID holidays, I found myself grappled with many troubling questions; Is PEMRA literally forwarding an antithesis to the Imran Khan’s policy on cultural front, being the ultimate conundrum.

While PTV , in an unprecedented move , telecasted the Turkish blockbuster drama series Dirilis Ertugrul on Eid days , the cable operators were busy airing the Indian films. That stirred a crunch question: Do we have any authority to have a check on these cable operators or there is some method in this madness; an antithesis to the cultural vision of the PM?

PEMRA has a code of conduct equally applicable for Media Broadcasters and Cable TV Operators wherein both have been restricted to air anything that is against the Ideology of Pakistan or Islamic values. Then there is PEMRA Cable Television (Operations) Regulations, 2002 that provides to whole mechanism to regulate Cable TV system.  In section 2, sub clause 6 of these regulations specifically explains the “Eligible Channels” as the following: ““Eligible channels” means the television channels allowed for transmission/distribution by the Authority.” Now while Eligible Channels find it difficult to get a proper position on the Cable Network, the Indian channels enjoy an all-weather position on the table. Pakistani channels contribute to national exchequer, they pay the required fee and they provide jobs to the people yet they find it hard to get the proper positioning. On the other hand Indian channels enjoy a walkover thanks to PEMRA management that is perhaps least concerned to do the needful.

In Section 9 of the same regulations it has been provided that “A Cable Television Operator shall ensure that only eligible channels are distributed through its cable system to the subscribers after proper authorization from the originators/producers or its representative duly licensed by the Authority and that no proscribed channels are added to its cable system for distribution at any time.” Now the question is: how can these operators violate these regulations and how can they air the prohibited Indian content without having some certain level of applied consent from the concerned authorities? Isn’t it strange that PEMRA comes so hard on “eligible channels’ on one pretext or the other but it is too soft when it comes to the “other way”.

PEMRA earlier has also imposed a ban on airing Indian content.  Supreme Court has reinstated this ban when a three member bench, headed by honorable Justice Gulzar Ahmad. I can still remember the words of Honorable Justice Gulzar Ahmad: “You people still want to watch the Indian content.”

As a concerned citizen of Pakistan I want to ask Mr. Chairman PEMRA: “you people still allow airing the Indian content?”

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