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.