Pakistan gets tough on Indian DTH & content

Mumbai: Politics and media make for strange bed fellows. More often than not one annoys the other. And a backlash follows even worse than a woman scorned. Take a look at what’s happening in Pakistan. And what’s happening in India.

Both sides are banning the transmission of channels in their respective countries. The Jammu & Kashmir government has banned five channels; earlier the Indian government had banned Pakistani channels. But Pakistani content was being shown on cable networks in the country.

Pakistan, however, is going a step further. It is drawing up a multipronged strategy to close the doors on Indian content transmission into Pakistan whether through Pakistani satellite television or Indian DTH operators like Dish TV. Airtel, Videocon d2h, or on illegal TV cable channels in the country run by local operators there.

On the satellite dishes and DTH front, its media watchdog – the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra) - says it is approaching different law-enforcement agencies in Pakistan ensure that sales of Indian DTH operators decoders – which it says are illegally being sold there - are banned in Pakistan as they don’t have landing rights or permissions to beam in Pakistan. It is also in the process of informing the chief ministers of the various provinces, including the Federal Investigation Agency, the Federal Bureau of Revenue to get behind the money trail of the sale and purchase of decoders and annual subscriptions for Indian DTH services. Dealers of Indian DTH decoders are going to be acted against immediately by local enforcement agencies.

According to him close to three million illegal Indian DTH decoders are currently available and active in Pakistan, on which there will be a crackdown through these measures.

On the content front, Alam firmly stated that his organization would ensure that Pakistani satellite television channels adhere to the six minutes per hour limit on Indian content going forward. Pakistani satellite TV channels have been airing Indian soaps, series and Naagin is among the top rated shows in the country. A Pemra board meeting took a decision to totally ban Indian channels as none of them have downlinking permission.

Alam has ordered cable TV networks to stop running illegal channels on their networks using compact disc content, failing which again strict action will once again be taken.

Pemra gave the managements of the broadcast networks 45 days until 15 October to adhere to the diktat, failing which punitive action- ranging from fines to suspension of licences - will follow.

Finally, the Pemra boss also made appeals to the Pakistani viewers to put a full stop to Indian content and satellite TV. "I urge the people to stop using illegal Indian dishes as it is in utter violation of the law and against the national interest," he said.

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