Stories about pemra

Pakistani media should learn something from India’s Satyamev Jayate

Hypocrisy is one of Pakistan’s most wide-spread epidemics. The channel, which defamed and criticised a respectable educationist for ‘corrupting the youth’ of Pakistan by imparting sex education, occasionally airs inappropriate content full of sexual references during prime time. How exactly are we supposed to explain to our children what rape, ziyadti (dishonour), prostitution and najaiz jinsi taluqaat (inappropriate sexual relations) are when they hear these words on TV? Not only is the timing inapt but sometimes, it is also the content. Most of the channels have identical programs in which they ‘expose’ selected evils of the society. Some months ago, a channel aired a story about a ...

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Don’t just fret about a channel you dislike, report it to PEMRA!

Following the uproar caused by the controversial episode of Abb Tak’s show, Khufia, where the host, Uzma Tahir, forced entry into the home of a transvestite couple and tried to film their life, many viewers decided to display their outrage over various platforms: some expressed their anger over social media with the help of Facebook and Twitter; others wrote blogs that were published online on The Express Tribune’s blog page. However, there were some that took a different route: many viewers decided to directly appeal to the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA). If one visits the official website of Pemra, there is a ...

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Pakistan imports illegal Dish TV from India but refuses to rid itself of ancient cable operators?

How many of us have exclaimed with joy and literally hooted at the following sentence, at least once in their lifetime? “Oh, great! Xyz channel aagaya!”  (Oh great! Xyz channel is available now!) Honestly, I have seen this reaction every time a cable operator tunes in any channel which he had previously stopped running without any prior notice and schedule. I am sure any and every Pakistani has experienced this, whether they reside in the urban areas, suburbs or the unincorporated villages. The sole cause of this problem is the existence of the TV cable industry, which we still have in use, while this technology has been replaced across the globe ...

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Cruelty to animals is not ‘Living on the Edge’

I recently caught the season finale of Living on the Edge (aired on October 16, 2013) and was appalled by the animal abuse taking place in the show. For those unfamiliar with Living on the Edge, it is a reality TV show in which contestants are given various challenges to see who is the most ‘daring’. It is supposedly Pakistan’s ‘highest rated show amongst music channels’. While many critics consider the language and content to sometimes be in bad taste, my major objection is with the cruelty that the animals go through during these ‘dares’. In the grand finale, amongst other ...

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When the poor pay with their lives for fizzy drinks

Travel through rural Pakistan and two things will strike you. One is heart rending poverty and the other is hospitality. Visitors are greeted with warmth and selfless generosity. The poorest of the poor will immediately call for ‘paani’ for their visitors. Paani means water in Urdu, but in the local lexicon it has come to mean a bottled fizzy drink. And ‘paani’ brooks no refusal. Visitors can demur all they want but the host is not deterred.  “It’s only paani”, he says. “It can do no harm”. But it can and it does. The impression amongst the general public that it ...

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PEMRA, banning an ad on contraception makes no sense

From banning websites over blasphemous content to the recent ban on the advertisement for contraception, Pakistan seems to be headed in the wrong direction. The problem at hand is not just the ban, but the authority that the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) has assumed – the power to ban anything. As a citizen of this country, I have a few concerns. Where exactly is democracy and our right to the freedom of speech? Pemra is abusing its power here. They are banning content on the internet based on what they find inappropriate. However, this content may not actually be inappropriate but educational. Additionally, they can’t install filters to block ‘immoral’ and ...

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Thanks for nothing Mathira and Josh Condoms

It is estimated that by the year 2050, our population will be 300 million strong. Every day, a whopping 14,000 babies are born. That is 14,000 more mouths to feed, 14,000 more children to educate and 14,000 children that need to be provided for. An average woman in Pakistan has 5 to 6 babies during her lifetime. It is without a doubt that we need more awareness and easier access to contraceptives. So for me, when an advertisement that delivers a message relating to birth control airs on TV, it is an occasion of celebration; a development that should be praiseworthy. ...

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PEMRA: Complain today, gone tomorrow?

Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra), over the years, has maintained an active role over complaints it receives via its website form and email. It maintains a parallel system of independent ‘Council of Complaints’ in each province which redresses public grievances relating to media conduct and directs Pemra to play its regulatory role where necessary. Many small interest groups, have seen in it an opportunity to direct the regulatory body in particular directions and as a way of exerting pressure over broadcasters. The numbers of complaints are thought to represent the extent of public opposition to a particular show. However, ...

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PEMRA: What’s vulgar to you is decent to me

Most recently, the apex court has taken notice of the petitions filed by Justice (retd) Wajihuddin Ahmed and former Chief of Jamaat-e-Islami against obscenity and vulgarity being broadcast on the electronic media. They requested the regulatory body to make policy guidelines barring TV channels from broadcasting vulgarity. To follow this order PEMRA has taken its first step by defining the word obscenity.  A lot of people have been lashing out at the court but the truth is this wasn’t a suo moto action. There has been a lot of debate over the court’s decision and the new definition. Liberals proclaim that ...

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Why are kids watching this stuff?

Recently I went to the theatre to watch the movie Prometheus which has an R rating universally. If you are not familiar with the rating system, let me explain that the rating ‘R’ means that children under 17 must be accompanied by parents as the film contains adult content. You can, thus, understand my astonishment when I saw children – who were approximately between the ages of 10 and 12 – occupying two front rows of the theatre without any adult supervision! For a minute, I was in a state of shock, because I knew what this movie was all about since I am in ...

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