The Pakistan Supreme Court Saturday reinstated the ban on the broadcast of Indian content on television channels in the country, setting aside a July judgement by the Lahore High Court (LHC) which lifted the ban imposed by Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA), Dawn reported. The decision will reinstate the ban on the broadcasting of Indian teleplays or television dramas.
According to Dawn, the case filed by the United Producers Association was heard by Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Mian Saqib Nisar, who said, “They are trying to [obstruct the construction] of our dam and we cannot even ban their channels?” Along with banning the Indian content on Pakistani television, the chief justice added, “the authorities should only air appropriate content.”
The ban was first implemented by PEMRA in 2016 after it received clearance from the Pakistani government. The decision was a fallout of relations between the two countries after the Uri attack. According to the decision, the news and entertainment TV channels, FM radio stations and the channels operated by the cable operators were allowed to air a maximum of 10 per cent foreign content in 24 hours, with the limit for Indian content of an hour and 40 minutes, excluding advertisements and breaks.
While the ban was lifted in February this year, the permission to air teleplays or television dramas was still not granted. Following the ban, M/s Leo Communications, TV channel Filmazia’s parent organisation, sought to overturn it challenging that the PEMRA circular was beyond the powers of the regulatory body and the Constitution, and claimed that the government was indulging in “selective patriotism” because even though Indian movies were allowed to be screened all over the country, they could not be aired on television, Dawn reported.
LHC Chief Justice Mansoor Ali Shah had stated that Indian content with objectionable or anti-Pakistan content could be censored but there was no need for a complete ban. “The world has become a global village,” Justice Shah remarked, asking how long unreasonable restrictions would be imposed. It is to be noted that the two countries have long cultural relations with artists, cine stars from Pakistan working in India, while Indian film stars have also performed in Pakistan over the years.