Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra) on Saturday put the decision on hold to ban ads of contraceptives and family planning products.
“In the larger public interest, PEMRA, recognizing both shades of opinion in our society, has decided to put this [ban on contraceptives’ ads] decision for vetting to its boards for further deliberations,” the statement read.
Earlier on Thursday, Pemra issued a notice to all TV channels and radio stations across the country to ‘immediately stop’ airing advertisements related to contraceptives and family planning products.
Defending its decision to ban the contraceptives’ ads, the regulatory body said “General public is concerned on the exposure of such products to innocent children, who get inquisitive on features/use of products.”
“PEMRA is not insensitive to public opinion. It is accountable to all levels, and respects the valuable feedback about all its decision. But in a situation where public opinion is so sharply divided, it is challenge for the regulator to take a decision acceptable to all,” the body said.
Acknowledging that its decision to put a blanket ban on such ads has raised concerns regarding medical and population control, Pemra said until a final decision is reached, there wouldn’t be blanket ban on all such ads.
For the time being, “these ads would not be aired during primetime (as children could view them); special care would be given to the use of language and visuals to conform to our cultural values which are going through a slow evolutionary process,” the regulatory body maintained.
Discussing contraception in public is taboo in Pakistan, though some experts warn the population is growing too fast for the country’s natural resources to support.
According to the United Nations a third of Pakistanis have no access to birth control even though its population is growing by more than two per cent a year.