Television

Pakistan Broadcasters Association to oppose PEMRA Indian content ban

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MUMBAI: The Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) shocked both Pakistan and Indian broadcasters when it issued an order blanking out  all Indian content from Pakistan’s television channels on 19 October.

Close to Rs 150 crore of Indian content exports to Pakistan went up in smoke with that order. And, Indian broadcasters’ syndication and film distribution teams - including those from Zee TV, Viacom18, Sony Pictures Networks India, Star India, YRF, Dharma Productions, T-Series etc - were still reeling from the shock of the draconian diktat. As were Pakistan channel, FM radio and film distribution executives and  theatre owners.

Apparently, the Pakistan media fraternity is not going let PEMRA have its way easily. The Pakistan Broadcasters Association (PBA) , the representative body of the TV channels and FM radio services is mulling taking legal recourse against PEMRA’s sudden order.

According to Pakistan industry sources, the PBA is likely to take PEMRA to court, objecting to its arbitrary decision.

Says a senior Pakistan TV channel executive: “The current limitation of 10 per cent international and six per cent Indian content was done through an act of Parliament. PEMRA is overstepping its brief by promulgating its new order. It has no business doing so. For us to follow it, the new order has to be passed by the government when the parliament is in session. Hence, we will approach the court for succor.”

However, observers are not sure if Pakistan’s courts will go against PEMRA’s order. On a previous occasion, in 2013, a high court judge had supported the complete ban on Indian content entering the country and passed an order to that effect.

Broadcasters meanwhile acknowledge that content trade between India and Pakistan was tilted towards India. “But, in recent times, Indian broadcasters have started acquiring more Pakistani content. And over time we had hoped that the Indo-Pak content trade would be equally split in revenue terms between the two countries. Now we don’t know how much of a setback it will be to our plans to export more to India,” says a Pakistan broadcast television executive..

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