WHAT’S being aired on Pakistan’s television screens is in the news again, this time because of the Turkish soap operas that are being broadcast by some leading private television channels. They have been broadcast for several months now, and garnered a large and lucrative following. What’s changed, though, is the decision of certain private channels to start airing them during prime time broadcast hours. On Monday, the United Producers Association, which represents a large number of private television producers and production houses, held a press conference in Karachi to protest against this. On the same day, the issue was taken up by the Senate Standing Committee on Information and Broadcasting and concern was expressed about this programming running contrary to local culture.

But this is to dangerously misinterpret the situation. As was highlighted by the UPA and the Senate committee itself was informed by PTV managing director Yousuf Beg Mirza, the problem is that with such content being run on prime time, the space for broadcasting locally-produced material is being restricted. Those against the broadcast of foreign content at peak viewing hours believe that it could seriously harm the local television production industry, which has grown rapidly since the country’s media policy was liberalised a little over a decade ago. Given the manner in which perceived threats to culture tend to provoke a violent, knee-jerk response in Pakistan, it is important not to confuse matters. The controversy over Turkish programming is about economics, and must be treated as such. The local industry’s concerns should be heard seriously and addressed, but the answer does not lie in restricting viewers’ choices. What the ministry of information needs to do is devise ways to provide incentives to and revitalise the local production industry, so that it is better able to compete with international standards. Other countries have created protectionist regulations without banning material; Pakistan needs to be able to do the same.

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Comments (5)

miramsha
December 20, 2012 3:55 am
The respected Editor needs not to behave like an ostrich by burying its head in the ground. If you, sir, perceive this drama as not contrary to the views of Islam, I wonder Islam does mean for you. I wish the scenarios and contexts depicted in these Turkish dramas occur in your house. Would love to see your response them. Besides, if you do not like the principles and practice of Islam, nobody is forcing you to be a Muslim. Join a religion that allows such occurrences as a norm and calls it bold and imaginative, breaking boundaries and taboos. I bet you'll find one such religion in your own backyard. Just dont invent new themes in a respected, civilzed and revered religion as Islam. Turkey is not Islam and Islam is not Turkey.
Cyrus Howell
December 19, 2012 1:12 pm
Take away women's soap operas and there will be a revolution by the next morning.
Atta Urrehmna
December 19, 2012 5:48 am
Totally Agreed ... From; A brother and son of the mighty women of Pakistan
Gerry D'Cunha
December 19, 2012 11:28 am
I was recently in karachi and happened to view a turkish soaps dubbed in the local language - was shocked, how the censor board allowed these foreign dramas on a private channel - yes, we should keep our culture alive
Abid Mahmud Ansari
December 19, 2012 9:54 am
Turkish soap are an instant hit in Pakistan. There are quite valid and strong reasons for this success. Actually Pakistani viewers are fed up with the monotony of Pakistani drama. Almost every channel telecasting dramas having the same plot, naration and quality,which is not so good. And the most disturbing fact is that the quality of language and dialogues of these dramas is deteriorating day by day. All such viewers who have seen PTV dramas by such legends as Nusrat Thakur, M.Nisar Hussain( MNH), Kanwar Aftab Ahmed, TV plays written by Ashfaq Ahmed, Bano Qudsia, Haseena Moeen, Fatima Surayya, there is a long list of such pioneers, still mention with great appreciation. We still miss that period. Where as Turkish soap is much superior than Indian plays and are a good replacement. Actually Indian plays are clearly out of place in Pakistan, because they are of very low quality in script, direction, and pictutrization. And Turkish soap is certainly far ahead of not only Indian plays but also ahead of Indian movies. I would suggest that PEMRA should allow telecasting of Irani plays and movies( these are of high quality in any respect), and Bangla Deshi music,and dramas also. Pakistani public deserve some good and claen entertainment.
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