The Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra) on Tuesday granted Chairman Absar Alam the authority to revoke or suspend licences of companies airing Indian content without providing prior notice. The statement declared that the licences of companies will be revoked or suspended without a show-cause notice or hearing if Indian content is aired in violation of an earlier order. Pemra, in a tit-for-tat move on Monday, had issued an order limiting the amount of airtime allowed for Indian content in Pakistan starting October 15, mimicking the format India has adopted for the airing of Pakistani content. The Pemra Board decried the policy formulated in 2004 by the government of Pakistan allowing six per cent airing of Indian content. An official of the authority had told Dawn that there was no policy in India regarding the Pakistani content and artists, and decisions in this regard were made by the relevant industry themselves. “We have made this consensus decision to link the airing of the Indian content with the policy in that country after looking at their treatment of our artists and productions,” said one of the Board members.
The member referred to a decision by the association of film producers in India and the demand made by some actors in Bollywood to ban Pakistani artists, musicians and technicians. The current policy in Pakistan allows a total airing of 10 per cent foreign content that is more than two hours and 40 minutes in 24 hours while the airing of Indian content is limited to six per cent which is a little less than one hour and 35 minutes daily. However, both the entertainment/news channels as well as the cable operators have been exceeding this limit, and despite repeated efforts Pemra has failed to contain them. Similarly, Pemra has been striving to end the sale of Indian DTH (direct-to-home) service across the country but the authority has failed to muster the support from the provincial governments and the FIA to stop the sale of the Indian DTH. Tensions between Indian and Pakistan have intensified after two Pakistani soldiers were killed as Indian and Pakistani border troops exchanged fire across the Line of Control. India alleged it conducted 'surgical strikes' against 'terror launch pads' based in Azad Jammu and Kashmir - a claim rubbished by the Pakistani military. India and Pakistan have been locking horns over Indian atrocities in held Kashmir since the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani by Indian forces in July sparked violent protests in the region. Over 80 people have been killed in ensuing clashes with security forces, whereas hundreds have been blinded by the use of pellet guns.