ISLAMABAD, July 20: Private television channels have been told to stop showing gruesome footage of accidents, bomb blasts and scenes of violence, the chairman of the government’s regulator said on Thursday.

“The government is keen to continue its liberal media policy, but we can’t have channels broadcasting pictures of mutilated bodies and severed heads that have a shock effect on women and children,” Ifthikar Rasheed, chairman of the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulating Authority (Pemra), said.

Last week, news channels aired footage of the bloodied head of a suicide bomber lying on the pavement, after an attack that killed a prominent Shia cleric and his nephew in Karachi.

“These sorts of pictures we believe glorify and preach violence,” Mr Rasheed said.

Pemra has also told more than two dozen channels operating that they should also avoid indecency that could offend people in Pakistan.

“We have reminded them they need to self regulate and give balanced coverage. If the contents don’t change then we have the instruments under the law to take action against such channels,” Mr Rasheed said.

The electronic media in Pakistan has undergone a radical transformation under the government’s more liberal policies.

Around 30 channels have started operations in the past five years after a long period of strict censorship when the state-run PTV was the only broadcaster.

Newcomers range from news channels showing current affairs programmes that offer lively debates over government policies to some dedicated to religious affairs, broadcasting sermons.—Reuters

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