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NA body recommends ban on airing foreign TV content

January 03, 2013

File photo shows actors and media personalities staging a protest against the promotion of foreign content on local television channels.–Photo by White Star

ISLAMABAD: The National Assembly’s Standing Committee on Information and Broadcasting on Thursday recommended the government to ban airing all foreign content in any language during prime time and take strict action against violators.

The committee meeting, held with Beelum Hasnain in the chair, was attended by its members, Secretary Information Rasheed Ahmed, PEMRA Chairman Abdul Jabbar, TV actors including Qavi Khan, Laila Zuberi, Asif Raza Mir, Maria Wasti and Sameena Ahmed.

After a thorough discussion on the new trend of airing foreign dubbed dramas by local channels and its negative effects on local culture and younger generation, the committee recommended that if the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) rules allow airing of the foreign content then it should only be sub-titled in Urdu or English.

The committee suggested that PEMRA should strictly monitor the television channels and cable operators and take prompt action over violations.

The committee said that the permitted 10 per cent of foreign content should be in proportion with the local content. The committee said that foreign content was being misused by the television channels.

The NA body called for a review of the rules adversely affecting the local drama industry in view of the onslaught of the foreign dramas. The committee also sought a channel-wise list of rules and regulations along with the actions taken against them.

The committee also suggested the government to ban all advertisements featuring foreign talent.

Moreover, it asked PEMRA to ensure observance of code of conduct by all the channels and licensees and keep a close eye on the foreign content on channels.

Secretary Information and Broadcasting Rashid Ahmed informed the committee that an amendment in the PEMRA law could only be made by Parliament.

He agreed with the proposals that foreign dramas were damaging local culture and should be banned.

Managing Director Pakistan Television (PTV) Yusuf Baig Mirza apprised the committee that PTV’s dramas were still popular both inside the country and abroad.

Actor Qavi Khan said it was unfortunate that no steps had been taken to protect film and drama industry. Khan recalled that he had produced two films on national solidarity but these had not yet been aired owing to ‘vested interests’.

Television personality Asif Raza Mir also urged steps to be taken in order to protect the local industry.

He said that foreign dramas should not be allowed in the country as they were not only harming the culture but also damaging the local industry.

He also suggested that the Indian content on cable and FM radio channels should be banned and added that the PEMRA laws should also be reviewed keeping in view the interest of the local drama industry.

Actor Maria Wasti said: “We are producing dramas keeping in view our social problems which is why our dramas are popular among the masses.”

Actor Laila Zubari said that telecasting of foreign dramas should not be allowed as their actors were not paying any taxes to our national exchequer.