Council of Islamic Ideology, Parliament to define ‘obscenity’ for media?

Published: August 27, 2012
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Meeting on PEMRA case decides: “any content which is unacceptable while viewing with the family transpires obscenity”. DESIGN: JAHANZAIB HAQUE

Meeting on PEMRA case decides: “any content which is unacceptable while viewing with the family transpires obscenity”. DESIGN: JAHANZAIB HAQUE

ISLAMABAD: A consultative meeting on Monday suggested Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA), which had has been assigned the task to define the term ‘obscenity’ in a Pakistani context, to refer the matter to the Council of Islamic Ideology (CII) and Parliament.

A statement issued by PEMRA said that the meeting also concluded that “any content which is unacceptable while viewing with the family transpires obscenity” and recommended formulating a committee to screen out unwanted content from television advertisements as well as regulating the rating of television channels.

The meeting was convened on the directions of the Supreme Court.

However, prominent media personality, Javed Jabbar opposed involving the CII in defining obscenity, adding that it was a complex matter and would be difficult to evolve consensus upon.

Earlier, the apex court had taken notice of the petitions filed by Justice (retd) Wajihuddin Ahmed and former chief of Jamat-e-Islami Qazi Hussain Ahmed against obscenity and vulgarity being broadcast on the electronic media. They requested the regulatory body to make policy guidelines barring TV channels from broadcasting vulgarity.

According to the law, TV channels are barred from telecasting ‘obscene material’; however there are no set parameters to what can be classified as obscene.

During the meeting Chairman PEMRA briefed participants about various terminologies, connotations and expression used to define obscenity in different countries.

Qazi Hussain Ahmed said that Pakistan was created in the name of Islam and its Constitution clearly envisages that there can be nothing against the Holy Quran, Sunnah and Shariah.

He specifically criticized news channels for spreading vulgarity in the guise of entertainment news particularly showing vulgar dances and songs in every headline.

The re-enactment and dramatization of crimes was also severely criticized by the participants as they said that this form of disgust in the garb of investigative journalism should not be tolerated by PEMRA.

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Reader Comments (15)

  • Umer
    Aug 27, 2012 - 9:04PM

    Then anything short of shuttle-cock burka is obscenity.

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  • Heraclius
    Aug 27, 2012 - 10:27PM

    Munafiq
    “Any content which is unacceptable while viewing with the family transpires obscenity”
    While being alone he/she can watch anything! how PEMRA will know if a person is alone in front of TV set?

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  • Mj
    Aug 27, 2012 - 10:30PM

    Mullahs are extending their influence through soft-Talibanization. People need to be wary or else we’re going to find that we’re living in Zia era 2.0

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  • k. Salim Jahangir
    Aug 27, 2012 - 10:54PM

    @ Umer….People must have seen Afghan women wearing skirts under shuttle cock burkas during Shah’s time & even after that,what is happening now one does not know.We are heading for a situation like that !

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  • Haseeb
    Aug 27, 2012 - 10:57PM

    @Heraclius: What they mean is that if you can’t watch it sitting with your family then its obscenity. In Iranian media no woman can appear without a head scarf and similarly for men the standard is covering from navel till knees at least. Please don’t make it an issue of women rights, men are also required to observe a certain level of modesty in their clothing as well.
    People use obscene material uses a woman as an object for attracting people to their cheap programs. Taking this (obscenity) factor out of the equation will make sure that they don’t have such cheap tricks for attracting people. Only quality of work will be the reason for the popularity of a program or otherwise.

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  • daactar
    Aug 28, 2012 - 12:01AM

    who decides what is appropriate with family!!!can an islamic council can!!there are things which a certain family is okay with while another is not !!this is not to be told by the governemnt but has to be decided on an individual level instead!micromanaging public stuff is equal to dictatorship!!

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  • Aug 28, 2012 - 1:40AM

    So I guess the real obscenity of terrorism and extremism will not be checked…

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  • Jamshed
    Aug 28, 2012 - 2:34AM

    CII should also ban men holding hands in public as it is a vestige reminiscent of “Lot” and his lot. They should also ban tea boys from truck driver hotels. Infact, they should push all little boys in KP to wear burqas or stay at home – atleast until they are able to defend themselves.

    I am reminded of Saudi Arabia which is in the process of setting up a “women only city”. Such fake displays of piety and they resulting skewed and starved male population results in depravity of different kind. ITs not natural to keep the sexes away. If men cant see or find women, they turn to other things which is even worse. I would like our molvi brethren to take their kids (especially boys) to Saudi Arabia and test my assertion.

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  • S
    Aug 28, 2012 - 3:08AM

    That is a great step, we are a Muslim country and media should represent that! Council of Islamic Ideology should be part of this process.

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  • Babar
    Aug 28, 2012 - 8:43AM

    So 5% of Pakistan will decide for the rest of 95%. Ironical

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  • salman
    Aug 28, 2012 - 9:49AM

    The amusement of it all. Oh Pakistan you’ve become a joke in the world. While the rest of the world talks about going to the galaxies beyond, we talk about going back to the medieval ages. Remarkable!

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  • Use Remote
    Aug 28, 2012 - 10:19AM

    Why don’t people understand…OBSCENITY IS DIFFERENT FOR EVERYONE. I watch many shows and movies with my family very easily but I am sure in more conservative homes, people would be uncomfortable. It is not fair to impose the conservative homes mentality on the non-conservative home, because you have permission to change the sodding channel!

    Also let me point out a certain double standard of sorts: we are very open to watching the most cheap Bollywood and Lollywood rubbish but a Hollywood movie, no matter how good and tasteful and meaningful, will always be thought more obscene.

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  • Zaid Ali
    Aug 28, 2012 - 11:05AM

    Good step.
    But knowledgeable scholars like Khanam Tayyaba Bukhari should be a part of such a board instead extremists and less knowledgeable persons like Qazi.

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  • Ansari
    Aug 28, 2012 - 12:14PM

    That’s a great step and I fully support this. TV dramas and channels are no more family channels. I agree that Obscenity is different for everyone and that’s the reason why somebody has to decide it. This can’t be left open ended as people have different opinions about it. In fact, parliament and judiciary is there for the same reason.

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  • Ahmed Zubair
    Aug 29, 2012 - 12:01AM

    Disgusting that Pemra members suggesting blanket terms to define Obscenity its people like these who push back Pakistan even further into darkness and illiteracy. They should all be sacked and replaced with Intelligent people who can tackle obscenity without effecting quality of good dramas and shows.

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