ISLAMABAD: After rece­iving approval from the government, the Pakistan Elec­tronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra) has imposed a complete ban on airing Indian content on local television and FM radio channels.

According to the decision made at the 120th meeting of the Pemra board on Wednesday, the ban will become effective at 3pm on Friday and the violators face suspension of their operating licences without any show-cause notice. It will be implemented on the cable networks, including the channels being operated by cable operators.

The meeting was informed that the government had responded to a letter written on Oct 4 and Pemra had been granted the powers to take such decisions on its own discretion.

Under the law, the news and entertainment TV channels, FM radio stations and the channels operated by the cable operators were allowed to air a maximum of 10 per cent foreign content in 24 hours, with the limit for Indian content of an hour and 40 minutes, excluding advertisements and breaks.

The Pemra decision is largely seen as a tit-for-tat move after a similar action by some channels and the entertainment industry in India against Pakistani content and artists.

However, Pemra Chairman Absar Alam told Dawn that the move to limit airing of foreign content within the legal ambit was made in April.

“But the current tense political situation and the actions taken by the entertainment industry in India to degrade Pakistan has helped Pemra as the resistance in this regard has been reduced due to public sentiments,” he added.

Pemra has already launched a crackdown against electronic media using and traders selling illegal Indian direct-to-home (DTH) service sets.

The board was informed about raids against traders selling Indian DTH sets and the cable operators using them and the confiscation of equipment.

It was informed that the open sale of the Indian sets had stopped across the country, while Pemra was striving to stop the money trail from the monthly subscription fee to the main beneficiary of the DTH services outside the country.

Our Correspondent in Kohat adds: Strict action is on the anvil against wholesalers of Indian DishTV receivers in the second phase after their removal from the retailers in local markets.

The officials said this after witnessing the burning of the whole stocks of DishTV, Tata Sky and DTH receivers used for broadcasting Indian channels in front of them by all the local cable operators and dish sellers.

A spokesman for the local cable operators and shopkeepers, Asad Khan, said at a press conference that after Pemra gave deadline of Oct 15, “we conveyed to Pemra officials that we are with the government and the armed forces and welcome the ban on Indian channels”.

According to APP, Pemra enforcement teams confiscated cable operators’ equipment used in activities against the rules and regulations, partially or fully sealed their offices and warned them of cancellation of their permits during raids on Tuesday night.

A Pemra press release said the raids were conducted in Peshawar, Nowshera, Mardan, Charsadda, Kohat, Dera Ismail Khan, Hazara, Karachi, Lahore, Hyderabad, Sukkur, Larkana, Tando Allahyar, Mirpurkhas, Sialkot, Narowal, Gujrat, Hafizabad, Sheikhupura, Faisalabad, Multan, Bahawalpur, Layyah, Lodhran, Muzaffargarh, Jhelum, Attock, Rawalpindi, Chakwal, Okara and Kasur.

The teams inspected thousands of cable operators and found that about 90pc of them were following the rules. The fully or partially sealed the offices of 107 operators.

Pemra teams also visited various markets from where complaints of the sale of illegal Indian DTH systems had been received, but found no evidence in this regard.

Published in Dawn October 20th, 2016

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