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Islamabad: Pakistan's Chief Justice Saqib Nisar on Wednesday said that the Supreme Court will not allow Indian content to be shown on Pakistani TV channels as it "damages our culture".
Chief Justice Nisar made the remarks while hearing 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 Pakistan, Dawn reported.
PEMRA's counsel Zafar Iqbal Kalanauri informed the three-member bench, led by the chief justice, that foreign content had been banned on court orders before a high court issued a stay order against it.
Saleem Baig, the chairman of the PEMRA, told the court that 65 per cent of the content shown on Filmazia channel is foreign and that the number at times goes as high as 80 per cent, the paper said.
At this, the chief justice said, "We will not allow Indian content to be aired on (Pakistani) channels". PEMRA counsel informed the chief justice that "Filmazia is not a news channel but is an entertainment channel; it does not do any propaganda."
"It is, however, damaging our culture," the top judge replied.
Nisar observed that the Pakistan Broadcasters Association's counsel Faisal Siddiqui was not present in the court. "We cannot pass a judgement without hearing him," he said.
Subsequently, the hearing was adjourned till the first week of February.
In 2016, PEMRA had imposed a complete 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 artists.
In 2017, the Lahore High Court had lifted the PEMRA-imposed ban, declaring it null and void as the federal government had no objections regarding the same.
In October 2018, the apex court reinstated the ban on the transmission of Indian content on local television channels, setting aside the Lahore High Court orders.
On Tuesday, the media regulator of the conservative Muslim-majority country directed all channels not to air television dramas containing "intimate moments between couples" or "bed scenes".
"Indecent scenes/dialogues/extramarital relations, violence, inappropriate dressing, rape scenes, caressing, bed scenes, use of drugs and alcohol, intimate moments between couples are being glamourised in utter disregard to Pakistani culture and values," PEMRA said.
"Such content is not only distressing for viewers but is also against the commonly accepted standards of decency," it said in a notification.
The directive comes after viewers slammed content shown in dramas which are depicting indecent scenes, extramarital relations, violence, inappropriate dressing, rape scenes, use of drugs and alcohol and physical intimacy, it said.
The notification said that PEMRA has been receiving massive public complaints on Pakistan Citizen Portal (PCP), PEMRA Complaints Call Center and Feedback System as well as through social media and Whatsapp.
"All TV channels are, therefore, required to stop airing such contents in dramas and produce content in consonance with the socio-cultural norms as per aspiration of the Pakistani society," it added.