LAHORE: The Pakistan Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) has blocked at least 11 Christian TV channels being run across the country ‘illegally’.
The move came after a raid conducted by PEMRA officials against cable operators who were violating the given rules, The Express Tribune has learnt.
The channels which have been blocked are Isaac TV, Gawahi TV, God Bless TV, Barkat TV, Praise TV, Zindagi TV, Shine TV, Jesus TV (Jessi TV), Healing TV, Khushkhabari TV, and Catholic TV, sources said. All the channels relayed religious programmes for Christians living in the country.
“These TV channels are banned in line with ongoing Pemra campaign to ban illegal channels,” Sheikh Tahir, the regulator’s general manager media, told The Express Tribune. He said the blocked TV channels did not have licences to continue their transmissions.
In response to a question that why only Christian TV channels were banned, Tahir said there was no segregation in the name of religion. “There are many other Indian channels which are banned and there is no special campaign against minorities,” he added.
Meanwhile, a notification issued by DG PEMRA Muhammad Farooq directed all regional managers to take necessary measures to stop “transmission/relaying of the above mentioned 11 illegal TV channels from cable TV networks” in the respective regions immediately.
‘A blow to Christian minority’
Talking to The Express Tribune, Nadim Anthony, a Christian advocate and rights activist, termed it a blow to the Christian minority of the country. Anthony said the blocked channels had a huge viewership, through which community members took religious guidance.
The Christian channels were blocked like the Indian DTH TV channels as if non-Muslims were also anti-Pakistan, he lamented. “There are so many Islamic TV channels functioning in the country but no one can dare ban them, which is discrimination.”
Father Morris Jalal, founder and executive director of Catholic TV, said it was a difficult time for Christians in the country. “What is the future of church media in Pakistan?” he asked. “We are just trying to reach our own community who are generally ignored by other TV channels,” he said.