LAHORE: Noting that “the world has become a global village”, the Lahore High Court (LHC) lifted on Tuesday a ban on the airing of Indian drama serials imposed by the broadcast media watchdog last year.
Chief Justice Syed Mansoor Ali Shah passed the order after hearing arguments on a petition filed by a local media company praying that the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority’s (Pemra) prohibition be set aside.
Through its counsel Advocate Asma Jehangir, the petitioner, Leo Communications, owner of the entertainment channel Filmazia, contended that while Indian drama series were banned in the country, Bollywood movies were being widely exhibited.
The petitioner said Pemra had granted a licence to the company for 15 years to operate a cable channel. Under the licence conditions, the channel was allowed to broadcast 10 per cent foreign content, including that of India.
The channel became very popular, however, without any prior notice Pemra issued a circular on October 19, 2016 and banned all Indian content on cable channels in Pakistan, the petitioner further said, adding that Pemra’s ban caused serious damage to the company because it had done substantial investment in purchasing Indian content.
Pemra’s counsel argued that the ban was placed on Indian content because Pakistani movies and dramas were banned in India. To this, the court observed that Indian programming could be censored if it contained immoral or anti-Pakistan content.
The high court also asked Pemra’s counsel to present a copy of the notification, if any, about the restriction on the airing of Pakistani content in India.
The court also wondered that if there was content in Indian broadcast shows or movies that was spoiling Pakistani culture and tradition or having a bad impact on the youth, why did Pemra choose not to mention it in its reply to the court.
Stating that Pemra should review its policy because the world had become a global village and “how long could we continue putting bans”, the court disposed of the petition and allowed the airing of Indian content in the country.