Joined: 23 June 2008
Islamabad, Aug. 12: Indian TV channels have gone off air in Pakistan following a government directive asking cable operators to shut the networks to counter "cultural invasion" and "anti-Pakistan propaganda".
"The main reason for the order is to prevent cultural invasion and obscenity that pollute the minds of our people, especially the young generation," Mohammad Tahir, a senior official in the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority, the country's broadcast watchdog, told The Telegraph.
He said a directive had already been issued to all cable operators and a campaign launched to ensure compliance. "The order will apply across the board." No operator will be allowed to show entertainment channels like Star Plus, Sony TV,zeetv, SABTV, 9x,ndtv imagine, Star Gold, Colors, and Joo.
Tahir said the first phase of the crackdown involved sending the notices. In the second, the authorities would monitor compliance and determine punishment.
Cable operators in the cities of Rawalpindi and Islamabad confirmed they had received the directive and said they were complying. "We have stopped showing Indian channels after receiving the notice," Islamabad operator Mohammad Babar said. Star Plus and Sony were still being shown by his company, but they would be taken off air soon, Babar added.
He said he personally agreed that some of these channels were showing programmes to "malign" Pakistan. Obscenity, something "repugnant to Pakistani traditions", had also increased, Babar said.
Even viewers didn't appear unhappy with the curbs. "I think the decision is right because most of the Indian channels are now increasingly showing sex and violence in their movies and serials which we cannot see with our families," Faraz Haider, a student of chartered accountancy, said.
On-screen kissing scenes were common in Indian movies and serials, he said. "I can't watch them with my mother, sister and kids."
Karachi schoolteacher Shahida Murad felt it would be better if Indian channels were not broadcast as long as relations between the two countries, which deteriorated after last November's Mumbai attack, didn't improve.
Ruling Pakistan People's Party legislator Fauzia Wahab, who is the party's information secretary and spokesperson, told reporters in Islamabad that "obscene" programmes being shown by Indian channels were a matter of concern for the government.
"We have different cultures and ethos. Such programmes cast a negative impact on the minds of our people, especially the youth," she said.
The matter also echoed in the National Assembly, with members across all parties asking the government to ban the channels.
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