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Pakistan’s media watchdog takes action against over 50 cable operators for illegally airing Indian channels

Pakistan’s electronic media watchdog on Thursday took action against more than 50 cable operators across the country and seized their equipment for illegally airing Indian channels and content, days after they were warned that stringent action would be taken if they were found violating its orders.

Action against over 50 cable operators has been taken in Lahore, Multan, Faisalabad, Sargodha, Gujranwala, Karachi and Hyderabad during the last few days, the Pakistan Election Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) said.

The broadcast media regulatory body said in a statement on Thursday that surprise visits were paid by the PEMRA teams in the seven cities.

The regulatory body seized the equipment of 50 cable operators for airing illegal Indian channels and content in defiance of directions of the Supreme Court of Pakistan as well as those issued by the authority from time to time.

“PEMRA seized all the equipment being used in the said illegal activity which includes 14 Satellite Receivers, 11 modulators, 5 transmitters and 2 digital boxes. The show cause notices have also been issued to the violators and the fine is also imposed,” it said and warned all cable TV operators of the country to immediately stop airing illegal Indian channels/content which are otherwise illegal or proscribed by the authority.

“No channel other than PEMRA licensee is eligible for airing on distribution networks and any operator found defying the orders henceforth would be dealt with strictly in accordance with PEMRA laws,” it said.

On April 21, the media watchdog ordered local cable TV operators across the country to stop airing Indian channels, warning that stringent action would be taken if they were found violating its orders.

Pakistan has banned Indian films and TV channels multiple times in the past.

For the first time, it banned Indian films following the war of 1965, which continued for decades but was eventually lifted in 2008 after improvement in the bilateral ties.

The most recent ban on Indian content in Pakistan was imposed in 2016, following tensions between the two countries over the Kashmir issue.

The Lahore High Court ruled against the ban in 2018 but the Supreme Court in October 2018 overturned the high court judgment and re-imposed it.

The bilateral ban policy hampers cultural ties between the two nations which is an essential aspect of the broad-based relations. PTI

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