Reporters Without Borders (RSF) strongly condemns a draconian new directive from the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) that effectively orders TV channels to impose prior censorship on their anchors by ensuring that they
express no personal opinions.
Issued on 27 October to all licenced satellite TV broadcasters, the PEMRA directive says journalists who host TV discussions must limit themselves to moderating and must never express an opinion or judgement:
[The] role of anchors is to moderate programmes in an objective, unbiased and impartial manner, excluding themselves from their personal opinions, biases and judgements on any issue. Therefore, anchors hosting exclusive regular shows should not
appear in talk shows whether their own or other channels as subject matter expert.
Non-compliance is punishable by a fine of up to 10 million rupees (60,000 euros) and withdrawal of the TV channel's broadcasting licence.
Daniel Bastard, the head of RSF's Asia-Pacific desk said:
It is not the media regulator's role to dictate who can express opinions during debates, or to decree what can or cannot be said. This grotesque PEMRA directive not only violates journalistic independence and pluralism but even goes so far as to
criminalize opinions. We urge PEMRA's members to recover a semblance of credibility by rescinding this order, whose sole aim is to intimidate media outlets and journalists.
South Park's latest episode Band in China mocked Hollywood for shaping its content to please the Chinese government.
Beijing responded by deleting all clips, episodes and discussions of the Comedy Central show from all Chinese streaming services, social media and even fan pages.
On Monday afternoon, creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone issued a statement with a faux apology about the ban:
Like the NBA , we welcome the Chinese censors into our homes and into our hearts, the statement reads. We too love money more than freedom and democracy. Xi doesn't look like Winnie the Pooh at all. Tune into our 300th episode this Wednesday at
10! Long live the great Communist Party of China. May the autumn's sorghum harvest be bountiful. We good now China?
The Band in CHina episode featured a pair of storylines about China. One involves Randy getting caught attempting to sell weed in China and getting sent to a work camp similar to those Beijing has been using in Xinjiang Province to hold up to a
million Chinese Muslims. While he's at the work camp, Randy runs into an imprisoned Winnie the Pooh.
A second plot follows Stan, Jimmy, Kenny and Butters forming a metal band, which becomes popular and attracts the attention of a manager who wants to make a film about them. But then the script keeps changing so that the film can safely be
distributed in China.
The Chinese censorship of South Park seems that the producers will take a big hit in income as Apple pulls out of bidding for South Park streaming rights as it seeks to appease China where Apple has significant sales.
Viacom, the owner of Comedy Central's long-running animated series South Park, is looking to sell the streaming rights to the series. Sources familiar with the bidding told Bloomberg that Apple probably won't extend a bid, due to the show's
recent ban in China after the second episode in season 23, Band in China included a humorous attack on Chinese censorship. China reportedly ceased all streaming and discussion of the show on its state-controlled internet.
Apple relies on Chinese manufacturing for many of its products, and China makes up a great deal of its consumer base. Thus, sources told Bloomberg that it was unlikely that Apple would want to host South Park on Apple TV+.
The articles also notes that Apple appears to be crafting a family-friendly content selection on its streaming service, with relatively non-controversial content in general.