A Pakistani parliamentary panel on Monday urged the government to ban Indian television channels beamed by cable networks if restrictions on Pakistani channels are not eased in the neighbouring country.
The Standing Committee on Information and Broadcasting in the Senate or upper house of Parliament said cable operators were freely screening Indian films despite restrictions on them being shown in cinema halls.
The panel reiterated an earlier recommendation for banning Indian channels if restrictions on Pakistani channels were not eased by the neighbouring country. Pakistani cable networks beam nearly all top Indian entertainment channels, which are very popular with viewers.
No Indian news channels are aired by the cable operators. Pakistan last year eased a 43-year-old ban on the screening of Indian films in theatres by allowing the import of a limited number of Bollywood productions.
During the meeting of the Senate committee chaired by Senator Liaquat Ali Bangulzai, Senator Muhammad Ali Durrani of the opposition Pakistan Muslim L-Qaid said that besides the entertainment channels, cable networks were also screening Indian movies and this should be stopped immediately.
However, Haji Mohammed Adeel of the Awami National Party, which is part of the Pakistan People's Party-led ruling coalition, differed with the other members when he said free flow of information is necessary in the modern age.
A ban on Indian channels would deprive the country of knowing "what actually they were propagating against Pakistan," he said.
The chairman of the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority told the committee that his organisation believes in 'complete freedom of expression' and prefers the self-regulation and monitoring of television programmes and advertisements.
PEMRA has established a special cell in Islamabad to monitor the content of broadcast media and satellite channels round the clock.