People from different walks of life have reacted differently over the decision

Aug 11 - 17, 2003 



Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) has put its foot down to enforce effectively its earlier decision of banning the Indian channels beamed by the cable operators in Pakistan.

PEMRA, it may be recalled, had put a ban on Indian Channels some one and half years ago when the Indian Media had launched a campaign against Pakistan with distorted stories to mobilize world opinion in its favor. The restrictions were, however, either relaxed by the authorities or the cable operators had assumed that the embargo has been removed by the authorities. The situation was turned about when the Indian leaders had changed their attitude towards Pakistan and had started talking about resumption of a dialogue on all issues between the two countries including the Kashmir dispute.

Taken for granted by the cable operators that with easing the mounting tension between India and Pakistan and exchange of diplomats, restoration of land route, talks about opening sky routes as well as resumption of railway communication were all the facts which had removed all about the ban on the Indian channel.

The fresh move of banning the Indian channel was not a new decision. The decision of banning the Indian channels was never recalled and it was in its place since its inception, however, the authority has reminded the cable operators that ban was still exists and that should be implemented in letter and spirit.

Syed Anwer Mehmood, Secretary Information and Broadcasting, in an informal chat with the newsmen in Karachi while commenting on the reports regarding ban on Indian channels observed that the ban was not a fresh one, it was imposed some 19 months ago and still exists, however the fresh move was just to ensure effective implementation of the decision. The purpose of taking fresh move asking the cable operators to strictly follow the instructions was to encourage the electronic media sponsored by the private sector in Pakistan, and there seems no harm in protecting the private sector's interest.

He was of the opinion that the electronic media in the private sector is quite new and its early stage, hence it deserve moral support, incentives and protection to enable it to gain economic and financial stability to survive in the hot competition. He said that the business volume of Pakistani channels had no match with the competing Indian channel and if the private channels in Pakistan was not given due protection they may not be able to bear heavy losses at the cost of competing Indian channels. He also clarified that the fresh steps to ensure implementation of the ban effectively was not to protect any particular channel but to cover the overall electronic media industry in Pakistan.



The fresh move to reinforce the decision of banning the Indian channel, however, had taken the viewers by surprise as they were not mentally prepared to face an abrupt break. The glamour presentation of entertainment programs as well as timely breaking of the news by some popular Indian channels had attracted a large segment of the viewers in Pakistan. Consequently, the advertisers to hit the target audience had started giving their commercial message on Indian channels of a sizeable commercial contracts were in the pipeline when the fresh restrictions resulted in a break and probably not a short break as generally said by the TV anchors. Those Indian channels affected as a result of the recent decision are including Star Plus, Star News, Zee Cinema, Zee Gold, Sony and B4U. These channels had carved a place for themselves among the female viewers in Pakistan due to presentation of family concerned serials almost throughout the week.

The film fans, which used to watch Indian movies on Indian channels may not be disturbed due to the decision because the video and cassettes markets are flooded with latest showbiz stuff regarding Bollywood instead the restriction, may prove a windfall for the people dealing in the video and cassettes business in Pakistan.

The cable operators were obviously disturbed due to the fresh move of banning the Indian channels as they have expressed their concerned to lose a large number of their customer's interest in watching the Indian channels alone. It is learnt that cable operators are doing utmost to get remove the embargo on Indian channels.

One of the cable operator's representatives, however, was bitter over the decision and had expressed his concern that the fresh move was ignited on the behest of some influential quarters of electronic media in Pakistan. He, however, declined to point out channel's name precisely. There was a general opinion among the viewers that in this age of Information Technology ban sounds strange as the viewers have various options to go to their desired program in the air.

People from different walks of life have reacted differently over the decision to restrict the beams of the Indian channels in their homes. Elderly people have taken a sigh of relief as they say that Indians have lost all their social, cultural and moral values and the Indian channels were making extremely bad effects on the youth in Pakistan. However, the youngsters have their own views. They feel that higher results in any sphere of life cannot be achieved by using the force.