Shibli against ban on entertainment content but says it shouldn't 'violate' values

19 Oct 2020

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Information Minister Shibli Faraz addresses a press conference in Karachi on October 7, 2020. — DawnNewsTV/File
Information Minister Shibli Faraz addresses a press conference in Karachi on October 7, 2020. — DawnNewsTV/File

Information Minister Shibli Faraz has said that the government should not set restrictions on media content, even as the country's regulatory authorities continue to ban apps and television serials for "immoral" content.

He maintained, however, that the entertainment industry should adhere to the “norms and standards of [the] family system in Pakistan along with religious restrictions and guidance". He made the comments in an interview with Arab News published on Monday.

The information minister also insisted that it was important that the local audience be familiarised with "historical heroes of this region" through films.

“We need films on and around the lives of historical heroes of this region, so that cinema becomes not only a source of promoting our history but also an inspiration for youth,” Faraz told Arab News. Prime Minister Imran Khan has also stressed the point on several occasions and last year he had made a special request to the state-run Pakistan Television to air the Turkish serial Dirilis: Ertugrul so that "our children and youth know what our culture is".

In response to a question pertaining to whether governments should impose moral codes on television channels, Faraz said: "I personally believe that the government should not go to these lengths.”

In the same vein, he said that television shows and movies should not "damage our religious and cultural standards".

Last month, Pemra banned the repeat telecast of dramas Pyar Kay Sadqay and Ishqiya, that aired on HUM TV and ARY Digital respectively, for content "against social and religious values". Earlier this month, the regulator issued an advisory for broadcasters and advertisers urging them to refrain from using themes and content which do not correspond with the nature of the product being marketed after it received complaints against a biscuit ad.

In his interview that appeared today, Faraz also addressed the ban placed on the TikTok app by Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA), which was lifted earlier today.

“The issue is that if something is used in a wrong way, everyone related to it has to face the consequences,” he said. “I don’t think that entire content on the app was inappropriate.”

He added that the ban was temporary, saying that the government means to design a mechanism in order to block "objectionable" content.

“But before reopening the app, the government wants to make sure that there is a certain mechanism […] that barred the objectionable content from the reach of everyone.”

Earlier today, PTA had released a statement saying that the ban on TikTok — which was placed by the authority 10 days ago — had been lifted "after assurance from management that they will block all accounts repeatedly involved in spreading obscenity and immorality".