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Pak panel seeks to ban Indian soaps at prime time

January 04, 2013 14:40 IST

In a move apparently aimed at preventing the airing of soaps and serials from countries like India and Turkey, a Pakistani parliamentary panel has asked the government to ban all foreign content in any language during prime time on television channels.

The Standing Committee on Information and Broadcasting of the National Assembly or lower house of parliament made its recommendation during a meeting chaired by Pakistan People's Party lawmaker Belum Hasnian.

The panel further recommended that the government should take strict action against anyone who violates the proposed ban.

Pakistani television artists and producers have been up in arms over the airing of Turkish serials dubbed in Urdu by several leading channels.

The serials, set in an Islamic milieu and featuring Muslim characters, have become popular with viewers.

However, television artists have contended that the foreign soaps will have an adverse impact on the domestic industry.

In the past, the artists have called for restrictions on the airing of Indian programming.

After a discussion on the trend of airing foreign serials dubbed in Urdu and the "negative effects on local culture", the committee recommended that if the rules of the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority allow the airing of the foreign content, such programming should only be subtitled in Urdu or English.

The meeting was attended by Information Secretary Rasheed Ahmed, PEMRA Chairman Abdul Jabbar, and television actors Qavi Khan, Laila Zuberi and Maria Wasti.

The committee further suggested that PEMRA should strictly monitor television channels and cable operators and take prompt action for violation of rules.

The panel called for a review of rules that are adversely affecting the domestic television industry in view of the "onslaught of foreign dramas".

The committee asked PEMRA to ensure the observance of the code of conduct by all channels and to keep a close eye on the foreign content on channels.

It also suggested the government should ban all advertisements featuring foreign talent.

Information Secretary Ahmed agreed with the proposal that foreign serials damaging local culture should be banned.

Actor Asif Raza Mir said steps should be taken to protect the local industry and that foreign serials should not be aired as they were harming Pakistan's culture and damaging the domestic industry.

He suggested that Indian programming on cable television and FM radio channels should be banned.

Rezaul H Laskar in Islamabad
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