Smutty DVD sales go up as porn sites go down

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


Saad Hasan January 08, 2012

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. 

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COMMENTS (25)

ijaz | 9 years ago | Reply

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

Ahmed | 9 years ago | Reply 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........................... :-S
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