At a joint meeting of Pakistan's cable operators and TV channel-owners, it was decided that they would all blank out Supreme Court proceedings from a case against them.
The court is hearing a case accusing the TV companies of airing obscenity and supposedly illegal Indian channels.
It was decided that even top news anchors would be bound by their respective managements not to touch these issues.
Almost all owners or senior executives of top Pakistani channels including ARY, Geo, and Express agreed to follow the decision of the Cable Operators Association.
According to sources, cable operators had threatened TV channel-owners that if they did not follow the decision, their channels would be put at the end of the tuning list in distribution networks across the country. The cable operators made it clear
that they would not accept any demand for the closure of illegal Indian channels particularly Star Plus and Sony which brought them money.
Pakistan's Supreme Court has directed the TV censors of the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) to set the parameters for discouraging programmes and advertisements supposedly showing obscenity on TV channels.
A three-member bench heard proceedings regarding nutter accusations of obscene and other objectionable material. The court gave four weeks to PEMRA for completing the process and directed to clearly define obscenity and submit a compliance report.
Appearing on notice, Acting PEMRA Chairman Dr Abdul Jabbar informed the court that he took all possible measures for discouraging obscenity on TV channels, adding that there were many complaints against obscenity on cable. He told the court that PEMRA
had fined TV channels spreading sectarianism, besides issuing notices to cable operators and TV channels for running advertisements and programmes containing obscenity.
The Criminal Justice of Pakistan asked the chairman that serving notices on TV channels was nothing but eyewash and that effective measures should be taken on urgent basis.
The National Assembly has unanimously passed a resolution expressing serious concern over the broadcasting of illegal foreign channels through cable network, the supposed growing trends of obscenity and indecency through local channels and the
unchecked flow of blasphemous and vulgar material through the internet into Pakistan in violation of the Constitution and the relevant laws.
The resolution, moved by the PML-N appreciated that the Pakistani media itself has initiated a debate on the issues of illegal foreign channels and obscenity while the Supreme Court has also taken suo moto notice of the same.
Geo TV, Pakistan's leading TV news station which dared to criticise the country's feared spy agency has been ordered off air.
Pakistan's TV censor suspended Geo News's operating licence for 15 days and fined it £60,000 for news reports that did not please the head of the military's Inter-Services Intelligence directorate (ISI), General Zaheer-ul-Islam.
The channel's president, Imran Aslam, condemned the decision, saying the forces of might have prevailed . It seems that justice has bowed down to forces that are above the law, Aslam said.
Amnesty International said it was a serious attack on vestiges of press freedom in the country:
It is the latest act in an organised campaign of harassment and intimidation targeting the network on account of its perceived bias against the military.
The row began on 19 April when Geo's coverage of an attempt to kill Hamid Mir, the channel's best-known journalist, enraged the military. Geo gave prominence to claims by Mir's brother that the ISI was behind the gun attack, which left the journalist
seriously wounded. He claimed the hit had been ordered by Zaheer-ul-Islam, and the channel aired photographs and video of the otherwise little-seen spy chief.
TV censors of the Pakistan Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra) have banned at least 11 Christian TV channels being run across the country.
The channels which have been blocked are Isaac TV, Gawahi TV, God Bless TV, Barkat TV, Praise TV, Zindagi TV, Shine TV, Jesus TV (Jessi TV), Healing TV, Khushkhabari TV, and Catholic TV , sources said. All the channels relayed religious programmes for
Christians living in the country.
Pemra claimed the censorship was because the banned channels were broadcasting without licences but that was probably down to christian channels not being allowed to have licenses.
These TV channels are banned in line with ongoing Pemra campaign to ban illegal channels, Sheikh Tahir, the regulator's general manager media, told The Express Tribune . He said the blocked TV channels did not have licences to continue their
Pemra seeks ministry's help in enforcing Indian DTH ban
In response to a question that why only Christian TV channels were banned, Sheikh Tahir, the Pemra's general manager medias claimed there was no segregation in the name of religion.
Talking to The Express Tribune , Nadim Anthony, a Christian advocate and rights activist, termed it a blow to the Christian minority of the country. Anthony said the blocked channels had a huge viewership, through which community members took
religious guidance. He added:
There are so many Islamic TV channels functioning in the country but no one can dare ban them, which is discrimination.
The Islamabad High Court has ordered the constitution of a high-level committee to stop proliferation of pornography in the country.
Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui, hearing a petition for the implementation of the court judgment against blasphemous material on social media case, also directed the federal government to appoint Pakistan Telecom Authority (PTA) chairman and member
(finance) within a fortnight.
In his three-page judgment, Justice Siddiqui said, Let a committee, consisting of interior, information technology, religious affairs and information and broadcasting secretaries, with the special participation of Pemra and PTA chairmen, and headed by
the cabinet division secretary, be constituted. He added:
The committee shall examine the issue of pornography , its availability through different devices to identity the areas and suggest immediate, short-term and long-term measures to be taken to stop this menace against the society.
The committee shall also examine the movies coming from foreign countries and take concrete steps to ban them if they are found against any law of Pakistan, moral values, Islamic teachings and Pakistani culture.
Regarding TV shows, Justice Siddiqui observed:
There are serious complaints that different channels through these shows are involved in such activities as are against the decency, morality, values of Islam and cultural heritage of Pakistan.
He directed the Pemra to submit a report in this regard and take immediate steps to prevent telecast of such contents, and if any channel failed to follow the instructions, penal action should be taken against it.
Update: Pakistan blames Hollywood for its own terrorism problem
The court case also hosted a bit of debate blaming Hollywood for the violence and terrorism that is omnipresent in Pakistan.
The US Pentagon has long accused Pakistan of serving as a sanctuary for terrorists who are killing and injuring American troops in neighboring Afghanistan, a charge that Islamabad denies. And now the U.S. President Donald Trump has ramped up
pressure on Pakistan to stop supporting terrorists, suspending up to $1.9 billion in aid until Islamabad takes decisive action against the groups.
Pakistan denies the US accusations and this was touched on in the curt case. Justice Siddiqui declared:
The biggest hub of pornography and terrorism is Hollywood and Los Angeles. Hollywood plays a central role in inciting of crimes, and then our madrassas (seminaries) are blamed.
All video games for children are based on crimes. How planes are hijacked and how to commit murders--everything is taught comprehensively.