Indo-Pak tensions trigger airtime war?

Islamabad, Oct 3: Pakistan today said it will allow airtime to Indian channels in the country based on reciprocity, reversing a Musharraf era relaxation on airing of popular Indian dramas and movies on Pakistani channels.

The amount of airtime for Indian content in Pakistan will mimic the format India has adopted for the airing of Pakistani content, the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) announced amidst the strain in Indo-Pak ties after the Uri terror attack and India's surgical strikes on terror launch pads in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK).

Indo-Pak tensions trigger airtime war?

In the body's 119th session held here, it was decided that PEMRA will only allow airtime to Indian content if India allows airtime to Pakistani content, Dawn news reported.

According to PEMRA rules, local channels can only show five per cent foreign contents but several Pakistani channels mostly rely on foreign contents, mostly Indian, Turkish, American and European.

A summary in this regard has been sent to the federal government, PEMRA said, adding that the government has also been requested to make airing of the Indian content conditional with that of Pakistan's content being aired in India.

PEMRA said in the light of the recommendations it has sent to the government, policies made during the General (retd) Pervez Musharraf regime will have no legal standing, which will "benefit the Pakistan industry grow".

The policies made during the Musharraf regime were put into effect by the then Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz so only federal government has the powers to revoke them, PEMRA said. It further said that from October 15, the body will take action against airing of all "unauthorised" content and TV channels in the country.

Last month, PEMRA said it would launch a crackdown on the illegal Indian Direct-to-Home (DTH) and airing of excessive foreign content by TV channels and cable operators.

"Around three million Indian DTH decoders are being sold in the country. We not only want this sale stopped but will also ask the relevant agencies to trace the money trail to determine the mode of payments made to Indian dealers selling these decoders to Pakistanis," PEMRA chairman Absar Alam had said.

All stakeholders, including cable operators and the Pakistan Broadcasters Association, had been warned that steps would be initiated soon against the airing of excessive foreign content, he said.


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