PEMRA cracks down on TV airing Indian content as tension escalates

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s media regulator (PEMRA) has launched a crackdown on companies airing Indian television channels and content, officials said on Thursday, after an escalation of violence in the occupied Kashmir.


Tension between the India and Pakistan has been high since an Indian security force crackdown on protests in Indian-occupied Kashmir began in July, following the killing of a young separatist leader by security forces.

Relations worsened in September when ‘militants’ killed 18 soldiers in a raid on an Indian army base, an attack India blamed on Pakistan. Pakistan denies the accusations.

“Given the recent tensions between India and Pakistan, the public is demanding that Indian channels and sitcoms be completely banned,” a spokesman for Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) said on Thursday.

Pakistani law only allows 86 minutes of Indian content to be aired by a channel daily, but entertainment channels and cable operators routinely flout the rules as Indian films and soap operas are so popular.

The sale of Indian direct-to-home service is also forbidden but common in Pakistan.

The authority said in a statement dated on Tuesday, it had given its chairman the authority to revoke or suspend the license of any company that aired illegal Indian channels or Indian content “without providing show cause notice and without giving [channels] the opportunity to respond”.

“After Oct. 15, action will be taken against all violators without discrimination,” it said.

The announcement came a week after Pakistani cinemas owners said they had stopped screening Indian films in “solidarity” with the country’s armed forces after India claimed it had carried out “surgical strikes” in Azad Kashmir.

Pakistan has denied that any such strikes took place.