Pak bans Indian TV content, films from being screened

NEW DELHI: Even as Pakistani theatres decided not to show Indian films in the wake of the current tensions between the two countries, that country’s media regulator has asked all channels in the country to "immediately" stop broadcast of illegal Indian content amid theongoing tension between the two nations.

Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) in a statement said it has been receiving complaints that several local private channels were showing Indian talk shows, reality programmes and dramas without permission.

"The complaints have shown serious concerns on this issue (illegal Indian content) in the wake of current situation between India and Pakistan. Complainants have urged PEMRA to impose immediate ban on broadcast and distribution of illegal Indian channels and illegal Indian DTH," PEMRA said in a statement.

PEMRA said that it had already taken steps to stop illegal broadcast of Indian channels and warned that all distribution networks and TV channels should follow the laws and "immediately" stop the broadcasting of Indian contents.

"This will send a positive signal to the public about the satellite TV channels and distribution networks' commitment with rule of law and the country – about which a huge number of talk shows preach daily," it said.

According to PEMRA rules, local channels can only show five per cent foreign content but it has been seen that several channels mostly rely on foreign contents, mostly Indian, Turkish, American and European.

Interestingly, the only Indian general entertainment channel which was showing Pakistani content, Zee’s Zindagi, has also decided to stop such broadcasts from 2 October.

Last week, Raj Thackeray-led MNS issued an ultimatum to Pakistani artistes and actors, including Fawad Khan and Ali Zafar, to leave India by 25 September or else they would be "pushed out". Concerts of Pakistani singers Shafqat Amanat Ali and Atif Aslam scheduled in Bengaluru and Gurgaon, respectively, were also cancelled.

And though actor Salman Khan backed Pakistan artistes following the ban on them by the Indian Motion Pictures Producers Association, Pakistani cinemas have stopped screening Indian films in “solidarity” with the country’s armed forces.

“We have stopped screening Indian movies at our cinemas from Friday till the situation improves and normalcy returns,” said Nadeem Mandviwalla, whose Mandviwalla Entertainment runs eight cinemas in Karachi and the capital, Islamabad, according to a report in a New York-based Indian newspaper. Indian films had been popular both at the cinema and on pirated DVDs in Pakistan.

Pakistan’s domestic film industry has seen a revival in recent years, but is dwarfed by India’s Bollywood. Pakistani actors have increasingly been appearing in big budget Bollywood films in the last few years.

Super Cinemas General Manager Khurram Gultasab confirmed his group would also not be screening Indian films. He said the move had been made by cinema owners themselves, rather than on government directions. The group runs ten cinemas in cities across Pakistan’s Punjab province.

Other Pakistani cinemas posted on social media saying they would not be showing Indian films after Thursday’s violence.

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