Smutty DVD sales go up as porn sites go down

Published: January 8, 2012

Rainbow Centre sees a reversal of fortunes following regulatory body ban.

KARACHI: 

A ban on pornographic websites in Pakistan by the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) in November 2011 has led to a surge in the sale of CDs and DVDs of this particular type of entertainment in Karachi.

The market reaping the profits is Rainbow Centre in Saddar, which was once a hub for pirated CDs and DVDs. But the proliferation of similar shops elsewhere in the city, raids at the market and the availability of pirated content online forced many stores to shut down. At least 300 of the 500 shops switched to selling garments and computer accessories instead.

The ban on porn websites has changed that. Dealers at the centre say they have been seeing sales grow since November.

“People no longer come here for Hollywood or Bollywood movies. They want porn,” said Afaq, who refused to share his full name. “If you ask me, almost 90% of our revenue comes from the sale of such content.”

The PTA asked eight Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to restrict access to a thousand of the most frequented porn websites. The last ISP to comply finished blocking websites last month.

The irony is that the Rainbow Centre dealers download content from the internet as well, said another shopkeeper. “It doesn’t matter if a few websites are blocked. We can still access many more.” Torrents, which are used to download movies, software and other electronic data from millions of personal computers around the world, are used for pornographic content, the dealers said.

But not everyone has the time, internet speed or patience to download entire films. “Young men are impatient. They wouldn’t wait hours to download a movie. They want to watch it instantly or more conveniently buy all that from us in DVDs,” the shopkeeper explained.

“I would be lying if I said our members don’t download and sell porn in the market,” says Saleem Memon of the Rainbow Video Merchants Association. “They do, and all attempts to stop that have failed. As for the government’s move to ban the websites, it doesn’t matter. People will find a way around all restrictions.”

Memon also claimed that a great deal of pornographic content is downloaded at bank branches, which shut their doors for people at 5 pm.

While Rainbow Centre is enjoying a reversal of fortunes, ISPs are facing unhappy customers. The chief marketing officer at Qubee, Hashim Sheikh, said some large ISPs took time to implement the PTA decision, which could have potentially resulted in customers switching services.

“In recent weeks, many of our normally happy customers have walked into our sales centres and said they do not want the service anymore. Now you can guess what the reason could be.”

The convener of ISPAK, an association of internet providers, Wahajus Siraj, said large ISPs will have to take stricter measures to enforce the ban. “Otherwise our customers will switch to where the websites can be viewed.”

The websites are hosted in different countries and people running them are finding ways to override the ban continuously, he said.

Despite the ban, people are still curious to know if the PTA has implemented it. Kashif Azeem, the administrator of the apnabroadband portal, which is frequented by people seeking information on different ISPs, says a post related to ban on pornographic websites has received the most hits.

“So many queries are coming in. People want to know if there is any ISP which has not blocked the websites,” he said. “Everyone seems to be in favour of the ban, even if they are searching ‘how to access porn sites’.”

The Pakistan Telecommunication Company Limited (PTCL), which has 85 per cent of the ISP market, says it has faced an uphill task in blocking websites.

PTCL corporate development executive Sikandar Naqi says blocked websites have been popping up with different IPs. “People do not realise how much money in terms of human resources we are spending on ensuring that these websites remain inaccessible.”

While ISPs do not share customer data, a senior official confirmed that over 30% of all traffic from the country at any given time is directed to porn websites.

The PTA also knows its limitations. There is no law backing its decision to block the websites, and ‘there are 20 million such websites on the internet’, one enforcement executive said.

“China has deputed 30,000 employees to monitor internet users. We cannot afford that. We don’t even have the systems. It is impossible to block all the websites anyway.”

Published in The Express Tribune, January 8th, 2012. 

on Twitter, become a fan on Facebook

Reader Comments (25)

  • In public interest
    Jan 8, 2012 - 11:31AM

    I dont see the point of blocking such sites when all one needs to do is pay for a VPN service (barely Rs800/month) and keep viewing sites which PTA feels it has ‘blocked’. What people do from the privacy of their homes is their business and the government has no right monitoring or banning that. If the government has indeed launched itself on a ‘divine mission’, maybe it should start with cracking down on wine-shops which operate under licence!

    Recommend

  • Rehan
    Jan 8, 2012 - 11:38AM

    Solution: Remove the ban. They are trying to ban a natural urge anyway. Why stop what’s natural? It will only lead to a waste of time and money.
    Regards,
    Rehan

    Recommend

  • SalSal
    Jan 8, 2012 - 12:13PM

    You don’t realize it!! It’s a way to make business and create employment so it’s smart!! Ban ban!!

    Recommend

  • sami
    Jan 8, 2012 - 12:25PM

    are those used napkins in the picture up there :S eww

    Recommend

  • Mard-e-Haq
    Jan 8, 2012 - 12:45PM

    “Young men are impatient. They wouldn’t wait hours to download a movie. They want to watch it instantly or more conveniently buy all that from us in DVDs,” the shopkeeper explained.

    What about the women?

    Recommend

  • Ali S
    Jan 8, 2012 - 1:42PM

    @Mard-e-Haq:

    Pakistani women are still hunting for ‘the spot’

    Recommend

  • Jan 8, 2012 - 2:00PM

    Favourite topic of Express Tribune…ET is more like Times of India..Which is not a good thing..

    Recommend

  • Razi
    Jan 8, 2012 - 2:24PM

    Blocking porn is the Best Decision and people who are selling porn DVD should be stopped at any cost.

    Recommend

  • Wisk
    Jan 8, 2012 - 2:42PM

    Now if our government can earn some tax from this piracy business. (my evil mind)
    Already the local shop owners pay heavy money to local law enforcement authorities on monthly basis. So that they wont be shacked.. guess their monthly dues will increase now :)

    Pakistan mein sub hota hai bhaaye bus thora twisted tareqe se hota hai ;)

    Recommend

  • Abcd
    Jan 8, 2012 - 2:48PM

    Curbing supply is a temporary solution. For a more long term affect, demand has to be curbed.

    That does not mean mass casterations but rather public awareness about how one can replace the need to watch porn by playing sports and other healthy activities

    Recommend

  • Zeeshan
    Jan 8, 2012 - 2:56PM

    Use bypass proxy sites :P

    Recommend

  • rabbahs
    Jan 8, 2012 - 3:08PM

    I see no point in banning these website. It shows the sick mentality of our decision makers.
    It is the human nature to explore the area that is more restricted … so …
    instead of restriction on websites it is better to provide an education on these matters.
    And our so called social pundits (religious clerks) should encourage society for early marriages so that young generation don’t have to go towards these thing.

    Recommend

  • Abbas ali
    Jan 8, 2012 - 3:26PM

    You cant stop our natural urge people will finf ways to find porn

    Recommend

  • HJ
    Jan 8, 2012 - 4:10PM

    @remove the ban as it is Natural urge. Comen on man, drinking, having sex etc etc ais also natural urge. So you allow it? In many countries these sites are born. If you are Islamic republic then whats the harm in banning these sites. Atleast you make these people make more effort than sitting at their home and watching porn anytime they wish.

    Recommend

  • Jeans
    Jan 8, 2012 - 5:43PM

    We must appreciate the efforts of PTA,, they have acted very well this time and if there is any other source of this, then its time for other deptts to perform their duties since PTA has performed.
    Thank you PTA…..

    Recommend

  • ali
    Jan 8, 2012 - 5:50PM

    I am 28 years old, and extremely ugly looking, and have no prospects of marraige at all. I have no other option but porn.

    Recommend

  • Shan khan
    Jan 8, 2012 - 7:03PM

    I hate the PTA. I just use free proxy sites (which are not banned) to view porn! Banning sites is useless and people will always find a way to view blocked sites? Why are we falling in Dubais footsteps?

    Recommend

  • Jan 8, 2012 - 7:36PM

    Razi: “Blocking porn is the Best Decision and people who are selling porn DVD should be stopped at any cost.”

    No man ever died looking at a picture of genitals. Save your enthusiasm for real evils like terrorism, corruption and illiteracy. Deal with those “at any cost”, and then we can consider going after silly non-issues like hunting down teenagers with natural, sexual curiosity.

    Recommend

  • narayana murthy
    Jan 8, 2012 - 7:45PM

    @ Babar Hussain

    U r right. Times of India is the worst. It focuses on sex, bollywood, cricket and gossips.

    Recommend

  • Mansoor
    Jan 8, 2012 - 7:51PM

    Blocking websites is merely a waste of time. We need to change our society and social values. I wish we looked for real problems. For this we need decision makers at PTA who are able to think out of the box, Its just like implementing Islamic Laws and Punishments without Implementing Islamic Welfare System.

    Remember when Facebook was blocked, people started using proxy servers who had never heard of word proxy before.

    Recommend

  • A
    Jan 8, 2012 - 9:02PM

    Thanks ET. now I know where to get next DVD from.

    Recommend

  • Zafir
    Jan 10, 2012 - 5:08PM

    good decision PTA. Those who are criticizing are actually in the favor of porn and cannot control their sex desire, Think if your children also get involved in such activities then what will you do? Would you allow them to watch porn? Islam says stop obscenity, so according to me it is very good decision.

    Recommend

  • Sadia
    Jan 16, 2012 - 11:53AM

    This is ridiculous. Can’t you see how sexually frustrated our society is already? I’m not in all out favor of porn, and neither do I watch it more than once or twice in 6-8 months (and that too just to relieve some big frustration) but this is not the way to cure the perverted nature of our people.
    Why do youngsters watch so much porn? cuz you don’t allow them to have girlfriends/boyfriends, or go on dates, or marry the person whom they love. All the while, watching bollywood movies in which women are almost naked and prancing around, why don’t we discourage those? even our children know the words to item number songs and 8 year olds now know what “sexy” means, thanks to Munni and Sheila.
    Such hypocrites we Pakistanis are, I can’t even look up as I type this.. I’m ashamed to be a part of this narrow-minded nation.Recommend

  • Ahmed
    Jan 16, 2012 - 4:14PM

    You are Right Sadia Restrictions are the Cause of All thisss Stuffff!!!!!! and By blocking porn IT would get Worse…………….. By the way they can’t stop People frm watching porn like thiss……………………… :-SRecommend

  • ijaz
    Feb 13, 2012 - 1:18PM

    hello
    every one this is good decision but it is very very late . it is penetrated in the whole country.it is good decision to block porn for next two generation but not for current generation bcoz now it has penetrated in the whole country. now every one know abt porn . every one has alot of data of data in their computer mobile internet cafe dvd shopkeeper and finally in the mind so you cannot ban hard disk computer mobile so i want to say one thing that is.
    hahahahahahhahahahahahaa

    Recommend

More in Pakistan