PEMRA set to define 'obscenity'

Published: August 24, 2012

Television channels are barred from telecasting any obscene material. PHOTO: FILE

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Electronic Media Regularity Authority, on the directives of the Supreme Court, has decided to define the term ‘obscenity’ in the Pakistani context. The decision comes after the court had taken notice on petitions filed against ‘obscenity and vulgarity’ on the electronic media.

According to the law, television channels are barred from telecasting any obscene material, but no parameters have been set to define the term.

The court had recently taken up petitions filed by Justice (r) Wajihuddin Ahmed and a former chief of religio-political party Jamaat-e-Islami, and had directed the authority to make policy guidelines against ‘vulgarity’ shown on TV channels.

PEMRA is now faced with the task of defining ‘obscenity’ and setting parameters for TV channels.

Fakharuddin Mughal, the head of PEMRA’s media wing, said the authority will be having a consultative meeting with stakeholders on August 27 to define the term.

Though coming to a consensus on the definition will be a difficult task, the authority will submit the recommendations to the court after the meeting on Monday.

“PEMRA is empowered to change regulations, but it would need a parliamentary nod if it would have to bring changes in rules or the act,” Mughal said. It is not clear yet if the proposed changes will be incorporated through a regulation or an act.

The PEMRA chairman says that no definition for obscenity or vulgarity exists in the constitution, Pakistan Penal Code or PEMRA laws, but the authority believes that these terms need to defined in order to guide the media on what is acceptable or unacceptable to Pakistani society.

For this purpose, PEMRA in its comprehensive Draft Content Regulations of February 2012 had inscribed some definitions of obscene content which were derived from international ‘metaphors’, he said.

The draft regulations were posted on the authority’s website and were publicised for feedback from the general public and stakeholders. The revised draft has also been uploaded for feedback.

Reader Comments (43)

  • Concerned
    Aug 24, 2012 - 8:08PM

    Interesting; this will be a first in the world.
    Their kids may end up regretting what their fathers did

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  • Midhat
    Aug 24, 2012 - 8:13PM

    Finally! Watching Pakistani shows was good means of family time together. Now I always felt uncomfortable with my dad, Mom brothers sitiing beside me when all of a sudden I would see Katrina popping out of my screen with her hips shaking like anything. Thank you but i dont need that!!! Please bring back the old days of clean entertainment. bring back Show like Tanhiyaan, Anakahi. Alpha Bravo charlie, 50 50 . it could be extremely entertaining without all the Vulgarirty.Recommend

  • Blithe
    Aug 24, 2012 - 8:19PM

    It’s about time .
    Please also regulate all the unlicensed Bollywood movies.

    Also , news channels like GEO show obscene Bollywood
    related headlines in the middle of serious headlines !!!!
    They need to be regulated .

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  • Sir King Kong Bunty
    Aug 24, 2012 - 8:24PM

    What is the problem? I dont understand, the whiole family can see Bollywood movies, but it need not be together. Also PEMRA should make laws on TV anchors brining people colored hats and spewing hatred against other groups.

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  • Ezaz
    Aug 24, 2012 - 8:32PM

    @Midhat
    Loved your comment.

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  • Blithe
    Aug 24, 2012 - 8:35PM

    What about the abusive language used by IK???

    I openly alleged that NS was involved in extra martial affairs !?!?!?
    This was very rich from someone with Sita White and
    estranged daughter scandal .

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  • Joy Goswami
    Aug 24, 2012 - 8:37PM

    Its good to see educated Pakistanis associating obscenity with Bollywood and passing the blame. Not that Bollywood is a saint, but why doesnt anyone raise their voice against Talk Shows preaching blatant hatred on private TV Channels in Pakistan. Dont you all think that those Hate-Mongering Television personalities pose an even bigger threat to the public and minorities ofcourse ??

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  • Mj
    Aug 24, 2012 - 8:38PM

    We are more interested in ‘obscenity’ rather than controlling hate speech, gory images, and incitement to violence on TV. Goes to show what our priorities are…

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  • Shayan
    Aug 24, 2012 - 8:45PM

    Having a hard time defining obscenity, han? Well anything you would not want your sister or mother to wear in public?

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  • Shakir Lakhani
    Aug 24, 2012 - 8:46PM

    They shouldn’t ask people like ex-JI leader Qazi Hussain Ahmed what obscenity means, otherwise all our TV and film actresses will be forced to wear burqas in dramas and movies!

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  • Mehdi
    Aug 24, 2012 - 8:49PM

    salam, its simply supply and demand phenomenon , when Pakistanis love to see “vulgarity” the media is just giving them what they want ! we actually need to clean our own selves first , need to cure the corrupted souls. then talk about society or global issues.

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  • Ammar
    Aug 24, 2012 - 8:53PM

    Hopefully the definition of ‘obscenity’ will also cover any material that incites hate against any religious and ethnic community. But I doubt it. Only women’s bodies are what counts as ‘obscene’ in the Islamic Republic.

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  • Gen zia ul Haq ka bab
    Aug 24, 2012 - 9:03PM

    What about the mullahs preaching extremism, hate and anarchy?

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  • Tribune Reader
    Aug 24, 2012 - 9:06PM

    Today, Obscene material has become an integral part of most of the Pakistani TV channels which is destroying our image in the entire Islamic World. Almost all of our T.V channels are playing a negative role by showing un-reasonable and un-ethical material(advertisements, etc), that is not suitable to be seen by any age group.
    Moreover, there are certain TV channels which show Islamic programs in a modernized way by wearing Coat,pant,etc. It is quite necessary for such type of vulgarity to come to an end.It is uncertain to mention here that the number of religious channels is quite much less than entertainment and news channels.

    **

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  • AJ
    Aug 24, 2012 - 9:14PM

    A great regulator would be remote control….if someone does not like what they see or listen they should change the channel….. is the expectation is for someone else to decide what we should watch listen, and talk about, we create a dangerous precedence and may lead to further violation rights…..think about it.

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  • Muhammad
    Aug 24, 2012 - 9:14PM

    I hope PEMRA also defines violent movies. Last night at 1:15pm on world call cable in karachi there was movie should on private chanels should on how to use a meat hook to torture a women victim?

    The same move was shown a day before at around 11am 3rd day of eid.

    will someone please take notice.

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  • Samreen
    Aug 24, 2012 - 9:16PM

    TV channels should also define what is a “Family Channel”? Does family channel means that the channel can be watched by the whole family together or does it mean that the channels has programs for every member of family (kids programs, adult women’s programs, adult men’s programs, teenagers’ programs etc)?

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  • Mirza
    Aug 24, 2012 - 9:24PM

    “on the directives of the Supreme Court, has decided to define the term ‘obscenity’ in the Pakistani context”
    What is most obscene, the beheading of innocent Pakistanis, the prosecution and persecution of minorities, the defacing of Quranic verses from the mosques and tombs, the forced conversion of minor minority girls and keeping quiet about it all.

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  • Ali
    Aug 24, 2012 - 9:32PM

    how about banning on Cable TV operators all over the country too, who dont stop playing adult rated movies at night or on requests???
    regulations does not mean anything in Pakistan.

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  • Aug 24, 2012 - 9:40PM

    This had to be done long time ago…but it’s never too late.

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  • Jpy
    Aug 24, 2012 - 10:09PM

    Best option available is ban all entertainment channels & allow only mulla channels so that Talibanisation will prosper……………& can re-enter the stone age……

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  • Jpy
    Aug 24, 2012 - 10:14PM

    Come what may but still Pakistan is in the no 1 position for searching porn sites in internets. So that is nothing to do with moral policing????????Height of hypocracy

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  • ADEEL
    Aug 24, 2012 - 10:21PM

    Thats great news…
    I watch many english channels like NATGEO, ANIMAL PLANET & DISCOVERY etc….
    They show amazing documentries with almost nothing objectionable most of the time…splendid entertainment…. Y cant we also have good shows or documentaries….
    Media should not seek ratings by showing vulgar content, but instead, it should focus on producing quality entertainment to attract viewership…

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  • Joy Goswami
    Aug 24, 2012 - 10:33PM

    @Tribune Reader ” Today, Obscene material has become an integral part of most of the Pakistani TV channels which is destroying our image in the entire Islamic World. “

    LOL. Pakistan’s image has already been destroyed by your favourite Mullahs, Deep State, “Strategic Assets”, and Intolerance. Obscenity has nothing to do with it. Go and be happy by passing the blame. Afterall, its only a women’s body that appears obscene to you. Hate-Speeches, and violent actions are heart-warming, Isnt’t it ?

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  • True Voice of Pakistan
    Aug 24, 2012 - 10:41PM

    CJ should ask government to device a RELIGIOUS PEMRA FOR BAN OUTFITS AND THEIR SYMPATHESIZERS……so they can be trailed…..Start with Qazi Hussain Ahmed, Mulana FR and list will end up to Sheikh RAsheed’s Amir ul Momineen…..Recommend

  • Syed
    Aug 24, 2012 - 10:48PM

    Mr. C Justice sahab very good job. Now do something about the shia genocide taking place in your country called Pakistan. I haven’t been watching Pakistani TV for a while so are they actually reporting these shia killings or its not really a news in Pakistan anymore?Recommend

  • PTI Mardan
    Aug 24, 2012 - 10:59PM

    @Blithe:
    I am sure PML n league and sons is trying its best to whip up the sita white issue but i m confident that the next election will be decided by the vision,honesty and competency of the leaders,not their past affairs.Imran khan had the sita white affair because he was a dashing handsome guy,while N.S was/is a looser.So we ll be greatful if you guys could let go of her.Recommend

  • The Flying Object
    Aug 24, 2012 - 11:17PM

    The decision is not difficult. The limits are strictly defined in the Quran and Sunnah! If only we followed them :(

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  • Aslam
    Aug 24, 2012 - 11:21PM

    TV channels are a major source of spreading vulgarity – especially the entertainment channels. A law is must to regulate the TV channels. In a Muslim society, these channels are seriously hurting our values and new generations are being spoiled through this medium. As a society we are getting lowest level of morality. According to a report, Pakistan is No. 1 in searching vulgar sites, and i believe most of the Pakistani youth is involve in it. It is a huge shame for us where we claim that we are Muslim and residing in a country which was established in the name of Islam. Apex court should also look into the internet matter as well. These kind of sites are banned in most of Muslim countries including Middle East and many others. Then why not Pak authorities can stop it. Being far away from religion is destroying us and we are facing grave problems despite all available resources. Time to think as a nation………

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  • Parvez
    Aug 24, 2012 - 11:23PM

    What may be obscene to some may not be obscene to others. I hope the axe does not fall exclusively on women and a more tempered view is taken, but I can only hope.

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  • Reza Aslan
    Aug 25, 2012 - 12:07AM

    Time to invest in hijab-manufacturing company’s shares!

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  • Aug 25, 2012 - 12:22AM

    they should first crackdown on the pushto and punjabi film industry, together with lollywood to begin with .. nothing can be more obscene than ladies suffering from obesity dancing in skimpy clothing ..

    later on, they might consider cracking down on all these electronic news media outlet, and please do not forget that waqar zaka’s show whatever it is all about! I actually saw a girl kicked out because no guy was ready to take her on a date in a show that resembles fear factor in many ways ..

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  • pk
    Aug 25, 2012 - 12:48AM

    Best means of censorship is the remote in your hand. If you don’t like something just change the channel and move on. I never want others to define what is and what isn’t obscene for me. Im that intellectually competent enough to decide what is right and what is wrong for me.

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  • s
    Aug 25, 2012 - 1:36AM

    about time, very very much needed

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  • Turbo Lover
    Aug 25, 2012 - 1:44AM

    This government has failed to implement law and order in the country. How will they be able to carry this out?

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  • Ali
    Aug 25, 2012 - 2:49AM

    Only in Pakistan will you see people celebrate the curtailing of their freedom.

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  • jaipal dahiya
    Aug 25, 2012 - 7:20AM

    psycology….the matter/thing you stop approaching by way of rules ,it will be approached more and more trough other means.better educate the society.

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  • Zalim Singh
    Aug 25, 2012 - 7:47AM

    Look at the picture. for Pakistanis obscenity = saree?

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  • Ansari
    Aug 25, 2012 - 8:19AM

    A really good move. In fact, move which is long due. Even PTV is no more a family channel, obstructing vulgarity will push artists and producers to produce dramas that used to turn streets into silent mode from 8 pm to 9 pm. Dramas like Tanhaiyan.

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  • ABU
    Aug 25, 2012 - 10:08AM

    @The Flying Object:
    I agree with you. Oh no! Do not bring Islam in to this; otherwise “Modified” sorry “Modern Muslims” will not like the interference of Islam.

    Recommend

  • Salman
    Aug 25, 2012 - 10:30AM

    It is high time that PEMRA should block all TV shows of showing Indian culture and language and also tell the guests on there talk show to hold back on there slang.
    Our younger generation are quick learners and are showing results from all these indian inspired dramas. Pakistani dramas are much better than the ones from our neighbor in the east

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  • Sameer
    Aug 26, 2012 - 3:32AM

    @Midhat:
    I wish I could recommend your comment 100 times.

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  • Shehryar
    Sep 17, 2012 - 11:40AM

    @Jpy: Really ? Who told you this? You need to get your facts straight.

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