Pakistan’s Supreme Court bans Indian content on TV, says it damages the country’s culture

Chief justice Saqib Nisar of Pakistan on Wednesday said the country’s Supreme Court will not allow Indian content to be shown on Pakistani TV channels as it “damages our culture”.

Nisar’s remarks came as a three-member apex court bench heard an appeal filed by the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) against a high court’s decision to ban the broadcast of Indian content on TV channels in the country, the Dawn newspaper reported.

PEMRA’s counsel Zafar Iqbal Kalanauri told the Supreme Court that foreign content was banned on court orders before a high court issued a stay.

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The authority’s chairman Saleem Baig said 65% of the content shown on Filmazia channel was foreign and the number at times goes as high as 80%.

At this, the chief justice remarked: “We will not allow Indian content to be aired on [Pakistani] channels.”

On being told that “Filmazia was not a news channel but an entertainment channel and that it did not do any propaganda”, the chief justice countered the PEMRA counsel saying: “It is, however, damaging our culture.”

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The country’s top judge adjourned the hearing in the case till the first week of February as the Pakistan Broadcasters Association’s counsel Faisal Siddiqui was not in attendance.

In 2016, PEMRA had imposed a ban on airing Indian content on local television and FM radio channels.

The decision was largely seen as a tit-for-tat move after similar actions were taken by some channels and the entertainment industry in India against Pakistani content and artistes, the report said.

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In 2017, the Lahore high court lifted the PEMRA-imposed ban, declaring it null and void as the federal government had no objection regarding the telecast of Indian content.

In October 2018, the Supreme Court reinstated the ban on the transmission of Indian content on local television channels.