The Islamabad High Court (IHC) in its verdict on Wednesday — a detailed judgement of which was made available today — partially suspended a single-judge ruling which had ordered television channels to stop broadcasting game shows and "obscene, indecent and immoral" content during Ramazan.
Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui, while hearing a case on implementation of the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority's (Pemra) code of conduct for Ramazan transmissions and morning shows, had ordered on May 9 to put an end to the airing of programmes like 'Neelam Ghar' and those "appearing to be like a circus show" for the duration of the holy month.
The judge — who had taken a strong exception to the "circus" that programmes fronted by popular hosts like Dr Amir Liaquat, Sahir Lodhi, Fahad Mustafa and Waseem Badami had become — had said in the order that channels engaged in airing or spreading "obscene, indecent and immoral" content would be dealt with in accordance to penal provisions.
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Subsequently, a private TV channel, as well as the Pakistan Broadcasters Association had appealed against the judge's verdict.
On Wednesday, an IHC bench comprising Justice Aamer Farooq and Justice Mohsin Akhtar Kayani suspended several points contained in Justice Siddiqui's May 9 order.
According to the detailed judgement made available on Friday, the bench upheld a ban on lottery shows from the original order that had said: "No programme suggestive of containing lottery and gambling, even apparently for a noble purpose like Haj/Umrah tickets etc, shall be promoted to air either live or recorded."
The bench suspended the point in the order calling for a "complete ban on advertisements, dramas and films of foreign origin".
It also suspended the point ordering TV channels to air the call to prayer five times a day, and a ban on TV channels from running advertisements five minutes prior to the breaking of the fast.
The IHC also suspended the order calling for the constitution of a committee to oversee the implementation of the Pemra code of conduct, as well as another order to the media watchdog telling it to submit a report on implementation of the IHC order after the first 10 days of the holy month.
The court said that those points contained within Justice Siddiqui's order were suspended which had no legal support.
The two-member bench, however, asked Pemra to take measures to ensure decorum in broadcasts during the holy month.