Will not allow Indian content as ‘it damages our culture’: CJP

Chief Justice of Pakistan Mian Saqib Nisar on Wednesday made it clear that the Supreme Court will not allow Indian content to be shown on Pakistani TV channels as it “damages our culture”.

A three-member SC bench, under the chief justice’s stewardship, was hearing an appeal by the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority’s (Pemra) against the high court’s decision to lift the ban on the broadcast of Indian content on TV channels in Pakistan.

The Pemra counsel Zafar Iqbal Kalanauri apprised the SC bench that foreign content had been banned on court orders before a high court issued a stay order against it.

Pemra Chairman Saleem Baig told the court that 65 per cent of the content shown on Filmazia channel is foreign and that the number at times goes as high as 80 per cent.

At this, the chief justice remarked that “we will not allow Indian content to be aired on [Pakistani] channels”.

Pemra counsel explained to the chief justice that “Filmazia is not a news channel but is an entertainment channel; it does not do any propaganda.”

“It is, however, damaging our culture,” the top judge countered.

The chief justice observed that the Pakistan Broadcasters Association’s counsel, Faisal Siddiqui was not in attendance. “We cannot pass a judgement without hearing him,” he said.

Subsequently, the hearing was adjourned till the first week of February.

In 2016, Pemra had imposed a complete ban on airing Indian content on local television and FM radio channels.

The decision was largely seen as a tit-for-tat move after similar actions were taken by some channels and the entertainment industry in India against Pakistani content and artists.

In 2017, the Lahore High Court had lifted the Pemra-imposed ban, declaring it null and void as the federal government had no objections regarding the same.

In October 2018, the Supreme Court had reinstated the ban on the transmission of Indian content on local television channels, setting aside the LHC orders.