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Television stakeholders stand up against the promotion of foreign content.–Photo by White Star

LAHORE: Feeling insecure in face of the rising trend of dishing out foreign content (plays) on different local TV channels, United Producers Association and television professionals staged a joint protest outside the Lahore Press Club on Monday against the practice.

The protesters, including a number of TV artistes, carrying placards with different slogans expressing their concern over the foreign content, mainly Turkish, being shown on local channels. Their main slogans was ‘Save Pakistan Television Drama Industry’.

They demanded that all Indian and foreign content dubbed in Urdu should be taken off air in Pakistan.

They said the UPA through such protest was trying to save local television drama industry. The UPA, they said, had no objection to foreign channels and programmes if they were in any foreign language or even had subtitles in Urdu.

They demanded the government should stake steps to protect the interests of local industry as was the practice in all other countries.

They also demanded that the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra) regulations should be revised in consultation with stakeholders, adding that a permanent role should be given to UPA in revising the rules.

Actor Firdous Jamal said the foreign content was a ‘conspiracy’ against the local TV industry hatched by the wealthy capitalists.

He said the foreign content was not only damaging the local production but also pushing against the wall the directors, producers, technicians and other people associated with the industry.

Usman Pirzada said the trend of dishing out foreign content dubbed in local language was injurious to the health of the local industry.

Actor Rashid Mehmood said foreign plays being shown on different local TV channels did not reflect local culture and traditions and it would also damage the local TV industry.

UPA Vice-Chairman Yasin Malik said the content which was against local culture and values would not be tolerated, adding the artiste community was united against the practice.

Veteran artiste Samina Ahmed regretted that channels were showing dubbed foreign plays and Indian content during prime time instead of plays being produced by local industry.

Ms Ahmed said channels were showing foreign re-runs, ignoring freshly produced local plays which was deplorable.

She said the local drama industry was a growing sector which in the last four or five years had provided employment to a large number of professionals and it kept updating itself with the passage of time when it came to scripts or technical input. The trend of showing foreign content was plying havoc with a thriving TV industry of Pakistan, she added.

“We don’t have any pact with India under which we show their content. Our channels are banned there but we on the other hand are buying their plays and showing on local channels,” she said.

She said with this kind of steps what sort of future we envisage for our younger generation studying film and television production at various local institutions.

Television artiste Maria Wasti said Pakistani culture did not allow such content which was ‘so open’. She also opposed the Indian content, saying it was promoting Indian culture amongst the younger generation.

The protesters also included Khalid Butt, Ghulam Muhayyudin, Shaukat Ali, Simee Raheel, Iftakhar Iffi, Imran Pirzada, Kiran, former PTV Lahore Station general manger Rafique Warraich.